CDC Reports That Lots of Kids Still Suffer From Lead Poisoning


Via Susie Cagle of Grist, here’s the latest from the CDC on blood lead levels in young children. We’ve known for a long time that lead is dangerous in much smaller concentrations than previously thought, and last year the CDC finally adopted a “reference level” of 5 ug/dl for the study of lead in kids. In its latest study, CDC reports that a total of 2.6 percent of children age 1-5 have blood lead levels above 5 ug/dl. That’s bad (though better than it used to be), but it’s also not evenly distributed. If you’re black, or poor, or live in old housing, the odds that your kids have elevated lead levels is much higher. The chart below tells the story.

As the CDC says, “Childhood exposure to lead can have lifelong consequences.” This includes cognitive damage that reduces IQ and contributes to poor performance in school. It also produces cognitive damage that increases the propensity to commit violent crime. But you knew that already, right?

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