Lead poisoning damage is irreversible. Even after lead threats are moved and a child’s blood lead levels return to normal, children can experience life-long debilitating harm from lead exposure including both acute and chronic health conditions. In Flint, Michigan, where all the children were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, 28% of the children now require special education services, while the national average is 13% of children.
If we only identify and address lead hazards after a child has elevated blood lead levels, we are failing our children and subjecting them to a lower quality of life. The fact that lead poisoning occurs at elevated rates in communities of color means lead poisoning is an environmental justice issue and arguably is an example of structural racism.
What’s the solution?
We owe it to our children to identify and address lead hazards before kids are harmed. Communities with lead poisoning concerns should adopt primary prevention programs to find and fix lead hazards before children are poisoned.