Blog Archives

These Cities Have More Lead Exposure Than Flint, and Nobody’s Talking About Them

By Kylie Cheung, http://www.attn.com/

or the past few weeks, the eyes of the nation have been on the city of Flint, Michigan, and for good reason.

Last month, a state of emergency was declared over the city’s lead-contaminated water supply about a year after government officials switched Flint’s water source to the Flint River. Many have raised concerns about the severe long-term effects of lead poisoning on youth and the delay of action and lack of transparency from the city’s government has garnered criticism from politicians and advocates around the country.

However, new reports are revealing that other major U.S. cities have even higher lead exposure and more lead-affected children than Flint, and it’s not just water that’s the problem. Read more

Leaked Emails Claim Snyder Administration Withheld Lead Testing Results

By Bryce Covert, http://thinkprogress.org/

In emails obtained by The Flint Journal, local health officials in Flint accuse the administration of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) of withholding the results of lead testing in the city’s schools before making them public.

Flint switched its water source in April 2014 to the Flint River and failed to use corrosion controls, steps that are now known to have caused dangerous levels of lead to leach into the city’s water system. On October 2, 2015, a day after Snyder says he learned that there were elevated lead levels in the city, he initiated lead testing, including at the schools.

But the results of those tests weren’t released to the public for six days, despite the numerous health risks associated with consuming lead-contaminated water. In one of the emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Jim Henry, the county’s environmental health supervisor, wrote, “MDEQ [the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality] explained that the Governor prohibited releasing all Genesee County lead results until after the press conference,” which took place on October 8.

In an interview this Wednesday with the Journal, Henry elaborated that Genessee County officials like him didn’t learn about the test results until they were distributed at the press conference. “They should have alerted the schools and they didn’t,” he said.

The tests, when made public, showed that three school district buildings tested above 15 parts of lead per billion, the threshold above which the Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking corrective action, although researchers say there is no safe level of lead. One school tested at 101 parts per billion, more than six times that level. Read more

State of lead poisoning in the U.S.

By Natalie Morin, wtop.com

The dangerous amount of lead recently found in the water supply of Flint, Mich. came as a shock to the majority of the American people. Believe it or not, many other states are familiar with the problem of elevated lead levels in children.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HealthGrove found 21 states with the percentages of children younger than 6 years who tested positive for elevated blood lead levels. Elevated blood lead levels is defined as equal to or greater than 10 ug/dL lead in blood for children younger than 6. These blood lead levels are detected through blood lead tests conducted in labs. HealthGrove only included states that reported 2014 statistics, as data reporting is not mandatory for all states, and the list is in no particular order as coverage in each state is sparse. Read more

Flint Water Crisis: What’s Being Done to Help Children Exposed to Lead

By Gillian Mohney, http://abcnews.go.com/

schoolkids

As the contaminated water crisis continues in Flint, Michigan, health experts said they are working to ensure the youngest victims do not suffer through a lifetime of health effects from the exposure.

Lead is a known neurotoxin and is particularly harmful to young children whose neurological systems are still developing. Early lead exposure can have a lifetime of consequences, including lowered IQ, behavioral issues and developmental delays among others, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Flint, researchers found that the incidence of children with elevated lead levels in their blood more than doubled after the water crisis began, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in December. Read more

 

How risky is drinking water contaminated with lead?

By Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/

LeadwaterThe public health emergency declared in Flint, Michigan, over high levels of lead in the drinking water raises concerns about the long-lasting impact lead exposure could have on the city’s residents, especially children.

After the city switched its municipal water supply from Detroit to the more local Flint River in 2014 to save money, some 100,000 residents may have been exposed. Chemicals used to treat the water leached lead from old pipes leading to homes, contaminating the water people got from their taps.

Reports of smelly, discolored water began to flow in last fall and researchers have since found elevated lead levels in dozens of children.

Just how much lead people have been exposed to isn’t clear yet, said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“My understanding as of yesterday is that they don’t have all of that mapped out yet — that’s part of the investigation. We on the health side have a lead testing program and since the 2014 Flint River water switch, we have seen about 100 children with lead levels greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter [in their blood],” said Wells.

Wells, who is also a clinical associate professor in epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said a level of zero is the ideal.

“Lead at any level can be associated with decreases in IQ, behavioral disorders, even an association with certain juvenile delinquency as these children get older,” she said. Read more

Grant aims to get rid of lead-hazards in Mid-South homes

By Eryn Taylor and Shay Arthur, http://wreg.com/

hudgrantThe federal government has awarded Memphis with a grant the city said not only helps make the city healthier, but provides jobs.

A $3.7 million grant will be implemented over three years to reduce lead-hazards in homes.

Homes built before 1978 were commonly painted with lead based paint.

Lead can cause permanent brain damage and damage to other organs, especially to children.

The city hopes to remove lead from 240 houses in 12 targeted zip codes.

“I’m very happy about it,” said Janice Taylor.

Taylor has been running Joshua’s Learning Tree, a daycare off Lamar in South Memphis for years.

Soon a sign in front of her building, warning of possible lead will be removed after she coordinated with the city to help rid the building of lead.

“It made us be more involved with the community, with our parents,” explained Taylor. Read more

State fails to meet guidelines on lead in homes

By David Abel, http://www.bostonglobe.com

leadinhomesShortly after Jahnyi O’Neal’s first birthday, a routine blood test revealed an elevated level of lead — nearly double the amount that federal health officials say can harm children.

But his doctors weren’t required to notify state authorities or discuss the potential harms with his family, because Massachusetts standards allow a much higher level of lead in the blood before triggering state intervention.

Within a year, while his family remained unaware that the boy was in danger, Jahnyi’s blood lead level tripled, finally reaching a threshold that mandated a home inspection and an expensive deleading of the boy’s century-old Dorchester home.

“He could have permanent brain damage. We had no idea,” said Lenora O’Neal, his great-grandmother, who owns the seven-bedroom home in the Grove Hall neighborhood.

Three years after federal health officials cut by half the amount of lead in a child’s blood that they said warrants medical attention, Massachusetts has yet to tighten its standards.

As a result, thousands of children in the state may be at greater risk of lead poisoning, which can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and in the worst cases, even death, public health advocates and lawmakers say. Read more

1,000 kids diagnosed with lead poisoning in 2014

By Larry Yellen, http://www.myfoxchicago.com/

1000kidsLead-based paints were banned in 1978, and still one thousand Chicago children were diagnosed with lead poisoning just last year.

Rates in Chicago are four times the national average.

“I just don’t like it when he touches the walls, cause he’ll touch his hands, lick his hands,” said mother Samirah Hall.

Some Chicago mothers fear their children will get lead poisoning, while others recall childhood friends who did.

“He had a problem, because he ate lead. And his mom wasn’t aware that he had eaten it until it was too late. And it affected him his whole life,” said Chicagoan resident Shawnte Burton.

His whole life might have changed if years ago researchers had the tools that are being used now to predict which neighborhoods, even which homes, were most likely to contain lead poisoning hazards.

It would have made Anne Evens job a lot easier. She worked in the city’s lead poisoning prevention program for ten years.

“Most kids get exposed as they’re toddlers and they’re crawling around, exploring their environments, normal behavior.  They get dust on their hands. They put their hands in their mouths. They put toys in their mouths, and that’s how they get exposed,” said Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy.

Now, Evens runs a non-profit which makes homes more energy-efficient by replacing their windows. Many of those windows pre-dated 1978, so the window frames included lead based paints.

“Lead is a neurotoxin, which means it damages your child’s developing brain. That means children with lead poisoning have trouble learning to read. They also suffer from behavioral problems. So they get exposed when they’re toddlers and the problems really show up once they get to school,” Evens said. Read more

Lead Contamination Near Exide Plant May Be Worse Than Previously Thought

By Randy Paige, http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/

Exide plantLead contamination near the Exide Technologies battery-recycling facility in Vernon could be far worse than previously thought.According to environmental health experts, the contamination goes far beyond areas previously known, reported CBS2’s Randy Paige.

Last year, two residential areas within the toxic emissions of the nearby facility were tested and widespread contamination was found.

The state department of Toxic Substances Control required Exide to remove the dirt from the yards of contaminated homes. The two initial areas, north and south of the plant, contained slightly more than 200 homes. But test results are now in for an expanded area.

John Froines, a noted professor emeritus of toxicology at the UCLA School of Public Health, says the amount of contamination in the expanded areas is equal to the contamination in the first two assessment areas – enough lead to poison children who live there.

“There’s no question children are at risk and significantly so,” he said.

CBS2 wanted to speak with Barbara Lee, the director of the state department of Toxic Substances Control, to ask her what her agency is doing to protect the people who live in the community.However, Lee refused to speak to the news station on camera or to answer any questions. She referred the news station instead to her staff, who responded with an email, which said in part: “We did not find any emergency levels of lead as defined by the U.S. EPA.”

The U.S. EPA has two requirements in order to declare an emergency – contaminated soil and victims with lead poisoning in their blood.

While the lead levels were enough to fall under the EPA definition of “emergency,” there were no blood poisoned victims identified. “Thus,” the DTSC writes, “there is no emergency.” Read more

The Scholastic Consequences of Chicago’s Lead Paint Problem

By Aarian Marshall, http://www.citylab.com/

dutchboypaintIt’s killed some children slowly. It’s sent others into convulsions. But in Chicago, in the first decade of this century, a new study finds, the effects of childhood lead poisoning were more subtle—though perhaps equally as devastating. Research published in April by Environmental Health finds that even limited lead exposure in childhood is linked with dramatically lower third-grade test scores, in math as well as reading.

The researchers, mostly Chicago-based public health scientists, looked at a particularly large sample size of Chicago children—58,650—born in the Windy City between 1994 and 1998. First, they used a database of these children’s medical records, with a particular focus on the lead levels in their blood. Then the researchers compared those blood levels with those same students’ performances on third-grade standardized tests, taken in Chicago public schools between 2003 and 2006.

Even after adjusting for poverty, race, gender, and the education levels of each child’s mother, a strong link between lead in the blood and academic performance emerged: The presence of just 5 to 9 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL, the standard measure for blood-lead levels) elevated the risk of failing math and reading standard tests by 32 percent. The researchers estimated that a full 13 percent of failing test numbers in reading and 14.8 percent of failing test numbers in math were due to the effects of lead. This is particularly notable because the Centers for Disease Control only recently halved the bolo levels required for medical intervention in children—from 10 μg/dL prior to 2012, to 5 μg/dL today.

Read more