Lead Poisoning in Children – Indiana

Indiana bill aims to increase lead testing for children in low-income families, By Ted Booker, February 9, 2017, South Bend Tribune: “Only a small fraction of Indiana’s children in low-income families are tested for lead poisoning, but a proposed state bill aims to change that.  Senate Bill 491 — co-authored by Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, and Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend — calls for doubling the number of Medicaid-eligible children tested statewide for the toxic metal, which can cause permanent damage to kids’ developing brains and organs…”

Housing Conditions and Health

  • Philly study finds house calls could help asthma patients living in poverty, By Stacey Burling, January 3, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Tyra Bryant-Stephens, a doctor who is medical director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, thinks doctors and researchers need to think more about an often unseen factor in patients’ asthma: their housing.  When doctors see poor patients in clinics, she said, they may not have time to ask about their living conditions.  Even if they did, patients might be too embarrassed to tell them…”
  • Seller-financed deals are putting poor people in lead-tainted homes, By Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein, December 26, 2016, New York Times: “A year after Tiffany Bennett moved into a two-story red brick house at 524 Loudon Avenue here, she received alarming news.  Two children, both younger than 6, for whom Ms. Bennett was guardian, were found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. Lead paint throughout the nearly 100-year-old home had poisoned them.  Who was responsible for the dangerous conditions in the home?  Baltimore health officials say it was an out-of-state investment company that entered into a rent-to-own lease with the unemployed Ms. Bennett to take the home in 2014 ‘as is’ — chipping, peeling lead paint and all.  Ms. Bennett, 46, and the children moved out, but they should never have been in the house at all. City officials had declared the house ‘unfit for human habitation’ in 2013…”

States and Lead Abatement

Decades after ban, lead paint lingers, By Teresa Wiltz, July 27, 2106, Stateline: “In the wake of the Flint water crisis, states are rushing to test for high levels of lead in drinking water. But many are failing to come to grips with a more insidious problem: lingering lead paint in homes and schools.  Paint, rather than drinking water, remains the main source of lead poisoning of young children in the U.S. But even though there are myriad federal and state laws designed to eradicate lead paint, enforcement is lackluster, hampered by a lack of money and the misperception that the problem has been solved. Many state laws don’t conform to federal recommendations, and federal funding for lead abatement has been slashed from $176 million in 2003 to $110 million in 2014…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

In some Zip codes, 1 in 7 children suffer from dangerously high blood lead levels, By Brady Dennis, June 15, 2016, Washington Post: “In one city after another, the tests showed startling numbers of children with unsafe blood lead levels: Poughkeepsie and Syracuse and Buffalo. Erie and Reading. Cleveland and Cincinnati.  In those cities and others around the country, 14 percent of kids — and in some cases more — have troubling amounts of the toxic metal in their blood, according to new research published Wednesday. The findings underscore how despite long-running public health efforts to reduce lead exposure, many U.S. children still live in environments where they’re likely to encounter a substance that can lead to lasting behavioral, mental and physical problems…”

Poor Quality Housing and School Readiness

Bad housing—not just due to lead poisoning– tied to lower kindergarten test scores, By Rachel Dissell and Brie Zeltner, April 21, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland kids who live in– or even near– poor quality housing are more likely to perform worse on kindergarten readiness tests, according to a recent studyby Case Western University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Lead poisoning, as in many other studies, was a major contributor to the poor test performance. About 40 percent of the more than 13,000 Cleveland Metropolitan school district children included in the study had records of a high blood lead level before arriving in kindergarten. But it’s not lead poisoning alone that’s hurting these kids. Children in the study with no record of lead poisoning who lived in or near bad housing scored lower on the kindergarten tests than their peers who lived in better housing…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

Flint is in the news, but lead poisoning is even worse in Cleveland, By Michael Wines, March 3, 2016, New York Times: “One hundred fifty miles northwest of here, the residents of Flint, Mich., are still reeling from the drinking water debacle that more than doubled the share of children with elevated levels of lead in their blood — to a peak, in mid-2014, of 7 percent of all children tested.  Clevelanders can only sympathize. The comparable number here is 14.2 percent.  The poisoning of Flint’s children outraged the nation. But too much lead in children’s blood has long been an everyday fact in Cleveland and scores of other cities — not because of bungled decisions about drinking water, but largely because a decades-long attack on lead in household paint has faltered. It is a tragic reminder that one of the great public health crusades of the 20th century remains unfinished…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Lead paint: Despite progress, hundreds of Maryland children still poisoned, By Timothy B. Wheeler and Luke Broadwater, December 5, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “There’s a huge hole in the kitchen ceiling of the rowhouse Olivia Griffin rents in West Baltimore. Rain leaks in through the roof, the lights in a bedroom don’t work, and standing water fills one end of the basement.  The 27-year-old mother’s biggest worry, though, is the flaking, peeling paint inside and out — and the dangerously high level of lead in the blood of her 1-year-old daughter, Lyric. Two of her other three children have lower but still potentially harmful levels in their blood as well.  Lead poisoning, once epidemic among Baltimore’s poor, is much less common than it used to be, with the number of new city cases dropping by 86 percent since 2002. But it is still claiming young victims years after authorities vowed to eradicate it. At least 4,900 Maryland children have been poisoned by lead in the past decade, their brains exposed to a contaminant that causes lasting learning and behavioral problems. There are likely more victims, because not all children are tested…”
  • In Flint and beyond, lead remains irreversible scourge among Michigan’s children, By Mike Wilkinson, December 13, 2015, MLive.com: “Across Michigan, in cities large and small, lead poisoning continues to plague children, limiting them in school and on the playground.  Although much of the state’s focus has been on lead-poisoned water in Flint, the metal continues to turn up annually in the bodies of thousands of children across the state, at percentages well above the numbers that raised red flags in Flint…”

Lead Poisoning Settlements

How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks, By Terrence McCoy, August 25, 2015, Washington Post: “The letter arrived in April, a mishmash of strange numbers and words. This at first did not alarm Rose. Most letters are that way for her — frustrating puzzles she can’t solve. Rose, who can scarcely read or write, calls herself a ‘lead kid.’ Her childhood home, where lead paint chips blanketed her bedsheets like snowflakes, ‘affected me really bad,’ she says. ‘In everything I do.’  She says she can’t work a professional job. She can’t live alone. And, she says, she surely couldn’t understand this letter. So on that April day, the 20-year-old says, she asked her mom to give it a look. Her mother glanced at the words, then back at her daughter. ‘What does this mean all of your payments were sold to a third party?’ her mother recalls saying…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Lead paint is poisoning poor Chicago kids as city cuts millions for cleanup, By Michael Hawthorne, May 1, 2015, Chicago Tribune: “Alarming levels of brain-damaging lead are poisoning more than a fifth of the children tested from some of the poorest parts of Chicago, even as the hazard has been largely eliminated in more prosperous neighborhoods, a Tribune investigation has found.  The toxic legacy of lead — added to paint and gasoline for nearly a century — once threatened kids throughout the nation’s third largest city. As Chicago’s overall rate of lead poisoning steadily dropped during the past two decades, the disparities between rich and poor grew wider…”
  • Freddie Gray’s life a study on the effects of lead paint on poor blacks, By Terrence McCoy, April 29, 2015, Washington Post: “The house where Freddie Gray’s life changed forever sits at the end of a long line of abandoned rowhouses in one of this city’s poorest neighborhoods. The interior of that North Carey Street house, cluttered with couches and potted plants, is lacquered in a fresh coat of paint that makes the living room glow.  But it wasn’t always this way. When Gray lived here between 1992 and 1996, paint chips flaked off the walls and littered the hardwood floor, according to a 2008 lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court. The front window­sills shed white strips of paint.  It was worst in the front room, where Gray bedded down most nights with his mother, he recalled years later in a deposition…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Detroit, MI

High lead levels hurt learning for DPS kids, By Tina Lam and Kristi Tanner-White, May 16, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “More than half of the students tested in Detroit Public Schools have a history of lead poisoning, which affects brain function for life, according to data compiled by city health and education officials. The data also show, for the first time in Detroit, a link between higher lead levels and poor academic performance. About 60% of DPS students who performed below their grade level on 2008 standardized tests had elevated lead levels. The higher the lead levels, the lower the MEAP scores, though other factors also may play a role. The research — the result of an unusual collaboration between the city’s Department of Health & Wellness Promotion and DPS — also reveals that children receiving special education were more likely to have lead poisoning…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

Lead poisoning, a stubborn nemesis, By Mireya Navarro, April 21, 2010, New York Times: “Nothing prepared Veronica Rodriguez for the call she got from a New York City health official last October. A blood sample taken from her 2 1/2-year-old son, Carlos Espinoza, had revealed more than double the level of lead that the federal government considers cause for concern about poisoning. ‘I was horrified,’ said Ms. Rodriguez, 26, who lives on Staten Island and vaguely recalls having heard routine prevention messages about the dangers of lead in the home. ‘I thought, oh my God, my boy is very sick.’ Lead poisoning among young children, which can cause learning and behavior problems, has decreased so sharply in recent decades that it is tempting to consider it a problem of the past. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was so confident about the decline in childhood lead poisoning that it set a goal of 2010 for eliminating it. But federal health officials now say eradication may still be years away because hazards remain in often poor urban pockets – mostly from old, badly maintained housing with lead-based paint…”