Did you know that the Flint, Michigan lead poisoning crisis, the one that irreparably poisoned thousands of children, could be happening in your city right now? Why? A whopping 31 Republican governors dominate states, while only 18 states’ governors are Democrats. Since Republicans are notorious for cutting costs, their states are suffering from major infrastructure failures.
Fortunately, the country’s largest cities can take advantage of the Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) funding of a three-year project to monitor lead exposure. The results are astounding.
Lead exposure in some Pennsylvania cities is WORSE than it is in Flint. Almost 10 percent of the 140,000 people they tested had a lead level of 5 mcg/dL (microgram per deciliter.) That means 18 out of 20 Pennsylvania cities have dangerously elevated blood lead levels. Worse, one percent of their kids tested at 10 mcg/dL or more!
No level of lead is safe, but 5 mcg/dL is extremely dangerous and 10 mcg/dL is unbelievably worse.
So why is that happening?
Flint’s lead levels come from the city switching from relatively pure lake water to corrosive Flint River water. That corrosion leached the metals out of the water pipes and sent them to the homes’ tap water.
Pennsylvania has a different problem: old, deteriorating lead-based paint chips and dust. Now, New York and Chicago have reduced their lead exposure results, but they need to report those levels, so we can get a handle on this huge problem.
Also, numbers can be deceptive. Neither Chicago or New York count lead in the blood at the 5 mcg/dL level, which Flint does. The two cities only count the higher 10 mcg/dL level.
But monitoring kids for exposure is not easy. Of six cities funded by the CDC to collect that information (New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, and Chicago), only two had results at the neighborhood level.
The remaining four cities are not willing to release their results.
Regardless, no level in the blood is safe, and that is why it is important to test at the neighborhood level, because levels can vary greatly from area to area within a city. The consequences of lead in the tap water are irreversible lower IQ levels and nerve damage.
Check out Stephen Colbert’s discussion with Erin Brockovitch on Flint:
Featured Image: Ann Arbor News.