Across Appalachia

Childhood Blood Lead Levels Falling in Appalachia

Date: February 17, 2016

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Elevated lead levels in children has gained national attention after the recent report that thousands were exposed to the heavy metal in Flint, Mich. In Flint, the city water system was the source of contamination, but lead exposure typically occurs from chipped lead-based paint found in old homes.

Children are more at risk of having high amounts of lead in their blood, especially those living in poverty. Elevated blood lead levels are likely to cause learning or behavioral impairments during childhood development.

In Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, the number of children reported to have lead poisoning has decreased since 1997, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but neither North Carolina nor Virginia have reported data since 2009. Tennessee provided data in 2014, but had no past statistics available for comparison. — Dylan Turner

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