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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pandemic lockdowns left thousands of American kids in homes with high levels of lead exposure.

The big picture: Lead is a potent neurotoxin, especially for children, and heightened exposure during the pandemic could result in significant problems down the road.

By the numbers: According to a report last month by the CDC, 34% fewer U.S. children had blood lead level testing between January and May 2020 compared to the same time period the previous year.

  • As a result, the agency estimates nearly 10,000 additional children with high levels of lead in their blood may have gone undetected.

Background: There is no safe level of lead exposure, but blood lead concentrations as low as 5 micrograms per deciliter can affect the long-term cognitive development of children, leading to lifelong learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

Context: The percentage of U.S. children with high levels of lead in their blood has fallen dramatically since efforts to phase lead out of the environment began in the late 1970s.

  • But more than 20 million housing units in the U.S. still contain lead-based paint, which is why many states recommend that young children have their blood tested for exposure.
  • The pandemic severely disrupted those screenings, as well as ongoing efforts to remove lead from old buildings, meaning thousands of children — who are more likely to be poor and from minority backgrounds — could be harmed for life.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest later Saturday, per AP.

Kenosha shooting lawsuit accuses police of coordinating with militia

Police and protesters confront in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Aug. 25, 2020. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The only survivor of a fatal shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests last year has accused law enforcement in a lawsuit of conspiring with a "band of white nationalist vigilantes," the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Of note: Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, is due to stand trial on Nov. 1, accused of wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, who filed the suit, and killing two other people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 25, 2020. He's pleaded not guilty to charges including homicide and attempted homicide and maintains he fired in self-defense.