Nov 18, 2021 - News

Majority of Colorado children under age 6 have lead in their blood

A piece of an old lead pipe. Photo: Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

A first-ever national analysis found that an estimated 72% of Colorado children under age 6 had lead detected in their blood, well above the national rate of 51%.

Why it matters: There's no blood lead level that has been identified as safe in kids, according to the CDC. Even low-level exposures can negatively affect IQ, behavior and academic achievement.

Driving the news: The recently released study, conducted between 2018 and 2020 and published in September by JAMA Pediatrics, is believed to be the first national analysis into the association between lead exposure and individual- and community-level factors, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.

  • Researchers analyzed blood lead tests that Quest Diagnostics administered to 1.14 million U.S. children between October 2018 and February 2020.

By the numbers: The study shows 1.4% of Colorado children had blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter or greater, a standard the CDC uses to help identify elevated cases.

  • According to the state, about 1.8% of children in Denver Water's coverage area ages 6 and younger tested positive for elevated blood levels, the Denver Post reports.

Between the lines: Children from predominantly Black or Hispanic ZIP codes were disproportionately affected, compared with those in predominantly white ZIP codes.

  • Kids from areas with pre-1950s housing had significantly higher levels.

Go deeper to see how rates compare nationally


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