The rate of childhood lead poisoning in Missouri is the same — 5 percent — as that of Flint, Mich., the town that made headlines because of contaminated drinking water.
That is one finding of a report by the Reuters news service.
The report found the rate of elevated leadlevels in blood in children in St. Joseph was 15 percent. The highest rate in the state was reported in the mining town of Viburnum in Iron County, at 30 percent.
The study mirrors findings reported in The Star in June about the problems of lead poisoning in children. Today, tens of thousands of Kansas City-area homes still contain lead paint so dangerous that a tiny amount of paint dust can damage a young child’s brain. Some Kansas City neighborhoods have worse lead poisoning than the water pipe crisis in Flint.
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Reuters looked at data from the states and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimated that children in 4 million U.S. households are exposed to high levels of lead. The rate of tested children age 6 and younger with elevated levels was 2.5 percent.
In all, Reuters identified 2,606 census tracts and 278 ZIP codes in 21 states that had elevated lead rates at least twice that of Flint. More than 1,100 areas had rates four times higher.
The chief causes of lead poisoning are old paint, water pipes and industrial waste.