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Heard on Morning Edition

Lead Levels Rise in Michigan Children

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Image credit: Regina Boone/ Time Magazine

Flint, Detroit, and Grand Rapids saw higher rates of lead exposure this spring than last year.

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There were more children in Michigan with elevated levels of lead in their blood than there were last year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the rate has increased significantly across Michigan from 2015. Neighborhoods in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Jackson County are seeing the biggest changes. Last year, 6.7 percent of kids in Detroit had elevated lead levels. That’s jumped to 10.7 percent this year. Spokesperson Jennifer Eisner said though improved awareness of lead poisoning may contribute to the increase, that doesn’t show the full picture.

We’re not just looking at raw numbers when we’re saying that there’s an increase. We’re looking at the rate. That’s what the concern is, that out of these additional people that are being tested, the number that is coming back positive are still increasing as well.”

 Jennifer Eisner, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

We know there can be increased contact with lead dust from inside and outside the home,” Eisner said. “That children are playing outside in leaded soil, and in rare instances, they may be exposed to drinking water with lead present.” Eisner said for the most part, lead exposure has decreased, both nationally and in the state of Michigan until now. She said the state health department is working with local communities to find a reason for the reversal of the trend.

Eli Newman, Reporter/Producer

Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops. Follow @other_eli

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