This post has been corrected.
More Monroe County children tested positive for exposure to lead last year than the year prior according to results released today, but the numbers are far below where they were a decade ago.
Children under age 6 are routinely screened for elevated lead levels in their blood, which indicate exposure and which can lead to several learning and behavioral problems. Public health researchers say that there is no acceptable level of lead exposure, but concentrations greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter put children at increased risk of complications.
In 2015, 206 Monroe County children were found to have blood-lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter, compared to 139 in 2014. By comparison, 1,019 children had blood levels above that threshold in 2003. No reason for the increase was given.
An additional 782 children tested between 5 and 9 micrograms per deciliter in 2015. The county started tracking children testing within that range in 2013, after the CDC revised its threshold for what it considers an elevated blood level. That year, 689 children had blood test results that fell within the 5 to 9 micrograms per deciliter.
Child lead exposure is a particular problem in city neighborhoods, many of which have older houses with layers of lead-based paint. But it's a problem in some parts of suburbia, too.
Child health advocates credit the long-term decrease in child lead poisoning to city laws requiring landlords to get all rental properties inspected for the presence of lead.
"In the past year, 988 Rochester area children had unacceptably high blood lead levels—enough to fill more than 40 kindergarten classrooms," said Mel Callan, co-chair of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, in a press release sent out this afternoon. "Children are particularly susceptible to the irreversible and devastating effects of lead poisoning. We must raise the awareness of families to get their homes tested for lead hazards and get their children tested at ages 1 and again at 2 to avoid any possible developmental damage.”
2003_2015 Blood Lead Screening Data by jmouleatcity