Syracuse Lead Study

Learn more about this important study
Why is this study so important?

Although cardiovascular disease is not typically diagnosed until mid-life, risk factors for the disease including high blood pressure and stress can begin early in life.


We hope to learn more about how very low levels of lead in children’s blood can affect their cardiovascular health.


This information will increase our understanding of why some children are on a trajectory toward increased risk of cardiovascular disease in mid-life and more importantly, what can be done to reduce the risk.

“My son recently participated in a medical study and I would like to recommend the experience to other families. The worst part was, of course, having his blood drawn, but after that the rest was easy and interesting. Although it took several hours of our time I felt that it was a very educational experience. We learned about several medical procedures (and saw a video of his heart beating), observed firsthand how data is collected (2 days of saliva samples, for example), visited an exercise lab at SU, and had many discussions about why they might have asked certain questions or gathered certain data. The motivator for my son was that he got paid $100, but I think he actually got much more out of it than that. I would recommend the experience for other kids especially if you think they might be interested in science, medicine, or related fields. Note: although it is called the Syracuse Lead Study they are studying kids with any level of lead (even a very small amount), as we all carry some level of toxins in our body. –K”

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Syracuse Lead Study Internships
The Syracuse Lead study is a four year project that is supported by a National Institutes of Health grant. We offer internship opportunities for students looking to gain first-hand research experience (internships are for course credit only). The study tests the effects of lead and other environmental toxicants on children’s cardiovascular system. Participants are children ages 9-11, from the Syracuse area and consider their race either black or white.  Eligible participants will take part in a venous blood draw, survey and assessment measures, 2 echo-cardiograms, anthropometric measures and psycho-physiological stress reactivity.We will then analyze the results to demonstrate connections between harmful environmental factors and cardiovascular health.

Intern tasks:

  • CITI Training – required*
  • Interaction with participants
  • Task administration
  • Data collection and reporting
  • Literature review for website and possible publication
  • Procedure development: reviewing/editing procedures performed during subject testing.

Internships are available during the academic year and summer session, there is a particular need for summer session (we are able to offer a flexible schedule for May, June, July and/or August).
Preference will be given to students that are able to complete an independent study prior to their internship


*To apply for an internship:

Please download the following form: SLS Internship Application

Submit form to:  Bryce Hruska: 124 White Hall or email to

*CITI training is required by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for everyone on the research team, including interns. This training program is completed online and covers ethical research practices.  Upon completion, certification is valid for three years.



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Frequently Asked Questions


For Parents

How can I sign my child up?

You can call our lab directly at (315) 443-4907 to speak with a lab member and sign up. This process take about 10 minutes. You can also fill out a form on our “sign up” page of this website. This will answer some of the questions we need to ask you on the phone.

What about transportation and parking at Syracuse University?

 There is parking outside of our building that you can use during your first appointment with us. During your second appointment we will resereve a parking spot in Irving Garage that you may use. Parking will be free of charge. You will receive $50 to off-set the cost of transportation. If you need further assistance with transportation please let us know by calling our lab.  

What will happen during the 2 visits to campus?

During the first visit we will conduct a venous blood draw, collect urine and hair samples and ask you and your child to fill out several surveys. The first visit will take about three hours and will be on a Saturday morning.


During the second visit you and your child will be escorted by our staff to three different locations on, or near campus. The first is for an echo-cardiogram (echo) to look at his/her heart. A second echo, focusing on the vessels of the neck and legs, will be performed at the SU Exercise Science Lab. At the third location your child will play several computer games while his/her heart functions and blood pressure are monitored. The second visit will be on either a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday morning and will take about four hours.

How much blood will be taken during the draw?

Our phlebotomist will draw a total of 29 mls of blood, which equals about 2 tablespoons.

What is an echo-cardiogram (echo)?

An echo-cardiogram uses ultrasound waves to provide information about the heart and arteries, it is basically a picture of the heart.

Why are only 9, 10 and 11 year olds being asked to join?

This is a continuation of our previous research in which participants were 9, 10 & 11 year old children.

What zip codes are eligible to participate?

All eligible zip codes are from the Syracuse area, the qualifying zip codes include 13057, 13202, 13203, 13204, 13205, 13206, 13207, 13208, 13209, 13210, 13211, 13212, 13214, 13215, 13219 & 13224

Why is this study important?

We all have environmental toxicants (like lead) in our system. We want to understand how these toxicants impact the cardiovascular system and its ability to recover when stressed. The goal of this study is to inform prevention efforts in order to improve cardiovascular health later in life.

How much will all these tests cost?

There is no cost to you for these tests and your child’s doctor will receive a copy of the results. If your child does not currently have a doctor there is one affiliated with the study who will review your child’s results.

I thought dangerous lead exposure was no longer an issue for people. Why should my child participate if the risk is not a concern?

Although lead exposure has been diminished and is regulated, we are not studying the impact of very high levels (lead poisoning) but rather the effects of low lead levels over a lifetime that may impact health and well-being.

I know that paint used to have lead in it but are there other sources of lead?

Yes, lead can be found in paint, furniture or children’s toys that were made before 1978. It can also be found in the plumbing of older homes.  For more information about lead click here.  



For Children

When will I receive my $100?

At the end of the second visit.

Does the blood draw hurt?

We have a very experienced phlebotomist who will draw your blood. She works with children all the time. It will feel like a prick and might be uncomfortable but it won’t last very long.

What is an echo-cardiogram and does it hurt?

An echo-cardiogram is a fancy name for taking pictures of your heart and arteries. It does not hurt; the person taking the pictures will put a device on your chest, neck and thigh that uses ultrasound waves to look at your heart and arteries.

How long will the study take?

The first visit will be about 3 hours and the second will be about 4 hours.

What if I start the study but want to stop before it is over?

If you change your mind about participating you can choose to stop at any time.


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