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ALERT: Nearly 3,000 Communities in America Have Worse Lead Poisoning Rates than Flint

Dec 20, 2016 04:22 AM EST

A new examination of lead testing results across the United States revealed that nearly 3,000 communities have significantly higher records of lead poisoning rate than what occurred during the Flint water contamination crisis.

The examination, conducted and reported by Reuters, was based on the data obtained from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These data include neighborhood-level blood testing results, most of which were not publicly available before.

Reuters found a total 2,606 census tracts and 278 zip code areas that have lead poisoning rate at least twice as the Flint. Census tracts are small communities with an average of 4,000 residents. On the other hand, zip codes are areas with an average population of 7,500 each.

Out of the 2,884 areas with double the lead poisoning rates, more than 1,100 have rate of elevated blood tests at least four times higher than the peak of Flint's contamination crisis. Despite the higher rates in these areas, the attention seemed to be focused in Flint.

According to Becker's Hospital Review, the congress gave Flint $170 million to address the lead contamination crisis in the city. This is about 10 times as much funding the CDC has to divide among all states to address lead poisoning.

Lead contamination remains a big health hazard in many areas in the U.S. CDC estimates that about 2.5 percent of small children aged one to six years in America have elevated levels of lead in their bodies. The amount of lead in the blood is referred to as blood lead level (BLL), which is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL). Elevated blood lead level is defined as 5 μg/dL or higher.

High BLL could increase the risk of brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems and hearing and speech problems.

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