By Sarah Frostenson
The lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, was a surprise, an emergency that occurred after the city switched to a new, cheaper water source.
But there are at least six cities in the United States where we should, in theory, have really good data on lead exposure. In fiscal year 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent almost $2 million as part of a three-year funding commitment to help some of the biggest cities in the country monitor lead exposure.
I spent the past week looking at these cities, and came away with three main findings. The first is that the rate of lead exposure in Pennsylvania is incredibly alarming. Nearly 10 percent of the more than 140,000 kids tested had levels of 5 or more micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood (5 µg/dL) — this is the threshold the government uses to identify children with dangerously elevated blood lead levels. One percent tested positive for blood lead levels greater than 10 µg/dL.