Mar 18, 2024 - News

Most Chicago kids exposed to lead in drinking water, new study says

Illustration of pipes in the shape of a p and a b

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nearly 70% of Chicago children younger than 6 years old are estimated to be exposed to lead in their drinking water, according to a new study published Monday in JAMA.

Why it matters: Health authorities say no level of lead consumption is safe and that the toxic metal is especially dangerous for childhood brain development.

What they did: With the help of AI tools, Johns Hopkins University researchers analyzed more than 38,000 voluntary home lead tests in the city from 2016 to 2023.

  • Their findings were published on the Journal of the American Medical Association website.

What they found: Lead contaminates home water on 75% of residential city blocks.

  • Children exposed to lead in water have about twice the amount of lead in their blood as unexposed children do.
  • Black and Latino populations are less likely to be tested for lead exposure than their white counterparts.

Worthy of your time: If your home uses lead water pipes, here are the city's recommendations.

Read the full study

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