Two-thirds of Arkansas children under age 6 had detectable lead levels in their blood, a new study from JAMA Pediatrics found.
Why it matters: Exposures are much higher in children from communities with pre-1950s housing or high poverty rates, and in those who have public insurance.
The study is the first known national analysis investigating the "association of lead exposure with individual- and community-level factors," Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
The big picture: A blood lead concentration as low as five micrograms per deciliter can affect the long-term cognitive development of children — and can lead to lifelong learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
By the numbers: The blood of 1.1 million children was analyzed between October 2018 and February 2020 for the study.
- Nationally, nearly 58% of children from ZIP codes with predominantly Black neighborhoods and 56% of children from ZIP codes with predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods had detectable blood lead levels. That's compared to 49% of children from ZIP codes with primarily white residents.
Yes, but: While 66% of Arkansas children had detectable levels of lead in their blood, according to the report, 1.3% had levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter. That's considered elevated.
What they're saying: The Arkansas Department of Health oversees the state's lead-based paint program and regulates water quality and related issues.
- A spokesperson told Axios that when elevated blood lead levels are detected, the agency works to reduce or eliminate exposure through physical removal, training and behavior changes.
Of note: Education and awareness are key factors to curb the problem. Oct. 24 to 30 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.
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