Lead and Housing Age: Homes Built Before 1980

In the following post we will examine the percent of homes built before 1980 for the city of Detroit and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties to examine the risk of lead poisoning among children. Prior to 1978 there was no ban on the use of lead based paint, and 1980 is the closest available Census data on housing age. The older the homes and the higher percentage of older homes, the higher the risk that lead based paint was used in the homes.

Detroit has the highest percent of homes built before 1980 of all the areas examined. Since Detroit has such a high percentage of older homes (a majority of the Census tracts in Detroit have 86 percent or higher of the homes built before 1980), the Detroit map uses different breakpoints in the legend than the County maps presented below.



There are only three Census tracts in Detroit where none of the homes in the city were built before 1980. These are locations such as Belle Isle and the Coleman A. Young International Airport, which generally do not have housing stock, though some people were found to have taken up residence in these areas.

One of the especially interesting features of this map is that much of the younger housing is located in the inner core where housing demolition and replacement has been intense since the 1940s and 1950s.

Much of the city is covered in dark brown, which represents Census tracts where between 96 and 100 percent of the homes were built before 1980.







According the maps presented above, Wayne County has the highest number of Census tracts with homes built before 1980; in total 84.4 percent of the county is made up of homes built before 1980.

A closer look shows that majority of these Census tracts fall within the Detroit City limits and the inner suburbs, such as Redford and Lincoln Park. According to the legend, between 84.1 and 100 percent of the homes in the darkest shade of brown, in areas like Detroit and Lincoln Park, were built before 1980. Inner suburbs of Oakland and Macomb such as Ferndale and Eastpointe, respectively, follow this same pattern. This means these inner suburbs are at substantial risk of lead poisoning of children, particularly when older housing stock is not fully maintained.

In Oakland and Macomb counties though there are far fewer Census tracts where over 84 percent of the homes were built before 1980. For example, Macomb Township, which has seen the highest population growth in the last two years, is mainly made up of Census tracts where 0-20 percent of the homes were built before 1980. In total, 62.1 percent of Macomb County is made up of homes built before 1980 and 64 percent of Oakland County is made up of homes built before 1980.


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