Flint, Michigan put lead poisoning on the map for many. But the midwestern city is far from an outlier. Children in thousands of places in the US are plagued by high blood levels of lead—and a new report from Reuters found that in Fresno, California, children had lead poisoning at a rate three times that of children in Flint.
The report, compiled from data released to Reuters from the California Department of Public Health in a public records request, found that in the downtown Fresno zip code of 93701, nearly 14% of children tested were found to have blood levels of lead at 5 micrograms per deciliter or greater—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s threshold for a “high” reading (no level of lead in your blood is safe). In comparison, 5% of Flint children tested high for lead during its drinking water crisis.
In total, 29 zip codes in California produced lead tests showing a similar or higher level of contamination as was in Flint, Reuters reports.
Childhood lead poisoning is an irreversible condition that can cause learning disabilities and lead to behavioral disorders later in life.
In an earlier investigation, Reuters found 3,000 areas (census tracts and zip codes) in the US with lead poisoning rates that were at least twice as high as Flint had in the midst of its public health emergency—and more than 1,100 of them had a rate at least four times higher.