“Nearly 3,000 areas in the U.S. have lead poisoning rates at least double those in Flint [MI] during the peak of that city’s contamination crisis,” a new report finds detecting lead paint poisoning.
In an assessment of national lead testing data, Reuters said lead poisoning hotspots are scattered across the country, from Warren, PA, where 36 percent of children tested had high lead levels; to pockets in Cleveland, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Unlike Flint, many of these locations have received little national attention or funding to fight the poisoning, which the report says comes from aging paint, plumbing and industrial waste.
Flint was thrust into national spotlight in early 2016 when troubling levels of lead were found in drinking water due to corrosive pipes. The report says 5 percent of children there had elevated lead levels at the peak of the contamination.
In its analysis, Reuters found more than 1,100 of the 3,000 communities identified had a rate of elevated blood tests at least four times higher than Flint. Experts call the findings eye-opening and alarming.
The report notes that “since the heavy metal was phased out from paint and gasoline in the late 1970s, children’s average blood lead levels have dropped by more than 90 percent.
The report relies on data obtained from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and covers 21 states, home to around 61 percent of the U.S. population, Reuters said. Some states provided data from 2005 through 2015, while others could only provide five years, the report notes.
Detecting Lead Paint ‘Half a Million’ Children
The CDC says there is no safe level of lead, but puts the current threshold for an elevated blood lead level at 5 micrograms per deciliter. Above this level, the CDC recommends a public health response.
Nationwide, at least 4 million households include children who are being exposed to high levels of lead, CDC says, estimating that approximately half a million children ages 1-5 have elevated levels of lead in their blood.
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