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Report: Nearly 1 in 7 kids in Highland Park had high levels of lead in their blood

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Almost one in seven children living in Highland Park in 2016 had high levels of lead in their blood, according to a new report from the state's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

The study looked at nine different cities with historically higher-than-average rates of children with elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs), including Highland Park, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Lansing.

Federal guidelines state that for children under six,  five micrograms per deciliter is considered a high blood lead level, though no amount is considered safe.

Of the nine targeted communities, seven had rates above the state average of 3.6 percent. Highland Park had the highest rate at 14 percent, while Detroit had the second highest at 8.8 percent. Flint was lowest at 2.4 percent.

Carin Speidel is a lead-safe housing coordinator with the Department of Health and Human Services. She says a lot of homes in older communities like Highland Park and Detroit were built before 1978, when lead was still used in paint.

"We certainly recommend anybody living in a pre-'78 property anywhere, regardless of where they're living in this state, to have their children tested, and insurance most often covers that test for the child," Speidel said.

The counties with the highest percentage of kids with EBLLs in 2016 were Jackson, St. Joseph and Calhoun at 7.6 percent, 6.4 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

You can read the full report here.

Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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