When I read the results of the new study from Axios, I simply couldn't believe it. An estimated 76% of Iowa children under the age of 6 years old had lead detected in their blood. The newly released information is part of a study done between 2018 and 2020. The national average sits at 51%. Iowa has the fourth-worst numbers in the nation, trailing only Nebraska 83%, Missouri 82%, and Michigan at 78%. How is this possible?

The study found that the primary source for lead in blood in the state of Iowa is older housing. Kids who lived in areas with pre-1950's housing had significantly higher levels of lead in their blood. Older homes are more likely to have lead paint in them, as it was very common years ago. The federal government banned the use of lead-based paints in 1978. The study also found the children from Black and Hispanic zip codes were affected more than kids from mainly white zip codes.

So what do elevated lead levels look like in children? The study revealed that the CDC now considers a lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or greater, is the standard that they use to identify elevated cases. In Iowa, 3.6% of children had levels that high. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, over 2,200 children under the age of 6 had elevated blood lead levels in 2019.

So what can be done? The state of Iowa has required blood lead testing for kindergarteners since 2008. It is considered one of the best in the nation. But, despite the law, 23% of Iowa kindergarten students last year had no record of a lead blood level test. Kids from rural areas were most likely to not be tested.


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