In Flint, Mich., testing has found lead levels of more than 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood in 4 percent of that city’s children. The result is national outrage.
In neighborhoods of New Orleans and Boston, New York and Baltimore, across the country in urban pockets much the same size as Flint, those same levels are regularly found in up to 25 percent of children.
“That hasn’t been getting the same kind of attention,” says Howard Mielke, a professor in the department of pharmacology of Tulane University whose research includes mapping lead blood levels across urban populations. “Maybe what’s happening in Flint will shine a spotlight on the fact that lead risk is everywhere.”
Mielke and other experts agree that the outrage over Flint is well warranted. The fact that the problem was created by one government entity and then ignored by several others makes it particularly heinous, they say. But they would also like to see some of the same call to action for other neighborhoods where Flint-like levels of exposure are the norm.