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Sky-high lead levels in Galveston, TX

Monday, January 28, 2008

crossing_galveston_bay.jpgIn Galveston, Texas, as many as one in five children have blood lead levels elevated enough to cause learning disabilities.

One in five. Can you even imagine? But to date, not a single thing has been done about it. City officials have known for years that lead poisoning was a problem, but the diagnostic system used by many of the city's doctors differs from the one the CDC requires -- and that means that, in the government's eyes, Galveston is doing just fine. They won't be able to get funding until they can demonstrate that lead is a big problem, using the federal government's own diagnostic system.

In order to make those tests happen, Galveston is considering implementing a mandatory blood lead level test, possibly as a prerequisite to entering daycare. Until they can demonstrate that lead poisoning is a considerable problem, the city's task force can do little to change the status quo.

Galveston's lead problem appears to come largely from its many old houses with peeling lead paint on both the interior and exterior. Some houses had their exterior paint sandblasted off many years ago, which increased lead levels in the soil.

Lead was mostly phased out of paint by the end of the 1970's -- and yet here we are, nearly 30 years later, still dealing with the effects. Makes you wonder what toxic chemical's effects we'll be dealing with three decades from now.

Photo: Crossing Galveston Bay, by OneEighteen