Does anyone believe for one second that Hillary or Bernie give a damn about the citizens of Flint, MI? This water issue is nothing more than a campaign tool for Hillary and Bernie, used to prove how much they care for the majority black community of Flint. It’s also a great way to pin the blame on MI Republican Governor, Rick Snyder. For anyone who’s keeping score, Allentown, PA has the highest recorded elevated lead level in the state, at 23.11% higher than the rest of the state, compared to Flint, Michigan’s 3.21%. Allentown, PA has a Democrat mayor, Ed Pawlowski, who has something in common with Hillary, he’s under investigation by the FBI. As a side note, a Republican has not held a seat on Allentown city council since 2006. Pennsylvania’s govenror, Tom Wolf is also a Democrat.

The lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, was a surprise, an emergency that occurred after the city switched to a new, cheaper water source.

But there are at least six cities in the United States where we should, in theory, have really good data on lead exposure. In fiscal year 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent almost $2 million as part of a three-year funding commitment to help some of the biggest cities in the country monitor lead exposure.

I spent the past week looking at these cities, and came away with three main findings. The first is that the rate of lead exposure in Pennsylvania is incredibly alarming. Nearly 10 percent of the more than 140,000 kids tested had levels of 5 or more micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood (5 µg/dL) — this is the threshold the government uses to identify children with dangerously elevated blood lead levels. One percent tested positive for blood lead levels greater than 10 µg/dL.

Compare that to Flint, where state data shows the rate of lead exposure for 5 µg/dL from 2014 to 2015 as 3.21 percent. Other researchers have found that specific areas of the city have exposure rates as high as 6.3 percent. That’s alarming, but still a lower rate than 18 of the 20 cities in Pennsylvania.

While there is strong reason to believe that the increased lead exposure rates in Flint are related to the change in Flint’s water source to the Flint River in April 2014, it is important to note that the lead exposure rates in Pennsylvania are largely linked to aging, deteriorating lead-based paint (chips and dust).

Second, there are cities that have made really good strides in reducing lead exposure; both Chicago and New York are prime examples.

Third, even some of these cities that get money for the express purpose of monitoring lead exposure do not make finding the data easy.

Vox reached out to the six cities currently receiving funding from the CDC — Houston, Texas, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York City. Of the six cities, only two were able to provide lead exposure data at the neighborhood level. The other four are getting money to monitor lead exposure — but aren’t making the results easily accessible to the public.

Philadelphia was not able to share community-area lead level exposure rates, but a 2014 Pennsylvania Department of Health annual report that included detailed information on 20 cities showed that 17 of those had a higher percentage of children with blood lead levels (BLLs) ≥ 5 μg/dL than the rest of the state.

This group of 20 cities in Pennsylvania had an elevated blood lead level rate 22 percent higher than the state
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2014 Credit: Sarah Frostenson
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2014
Credit: Sarah Frostenson

Cities like Allentown and Altoona had more than double the state exposure rate of 9.37 percent, and the group of 20 cities had a collective rate of 11.49 percent, also higher than the state rate. The geometric mean of blood lead level tests performed in Pennsylvania was 2.3 µg/dL, which is substantially lower than the state’s rate, indicating some cities in Pennsylvania are disproportionately impacted by lead exposure. Via: Vox


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