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Our National Lead Problem Is Bigger Than Flint46:52

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Flint, Michigan is in the news for lead in the water. But there’s lead – and higher levels – all over this country. We’ll dig in.

The Flint Water Plant tower is seen, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 in Flint, Mich. Flint is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The city was under state management at the time. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
The Flint Water Plant tower is seen, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 in Flint, Mich. Flint is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The city was under state management at the time. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The lead in the water in Flint, Michigan is appalling, frightening. The whole country’s finally focused on it. But the fact is, there are serious lead threats, problems, all over this country. And no small number – maybe in your community – are worse than Flint’s. Lead can cut IQ, retard development, breed behavioral problems, even crime. And very often, we just let it flow. This hour On Point, the map of America by lead problems, way beyond Flint. And what to do about it.

Guests

Steve Carmody, Mid-Michigan reporter for Michigan Radio. (@scarmody)

Dr. Maitreyi Mazumdar, neurology specialist at the Boston Children's Hospital. Assitant professor of neurology and environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Gerald Markowitz, public health historian. Professor of history at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Co-author, with David Rosner, of "Lead Wars" and "Deceit and Denial."

Erik Olson, director of the health and environmental program at the National Resources Defense Council, where he is also the senior strategic director of the food and agriculture program.

From Tom’s Reading List

Michigan Radio: Flint looks to Lansing for lessons in lead service line replacement -- "Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver, says she doesn’t want to waste any time getting rid of the city’s old lead service lines. It’s those lines – which bring water from the main to Flint houses – that have caused so much trouble in the city. Flint did not treat the water from the Flint River properly. That meant it ate away at those pipes and contaminated the water in many homes with lead."

New York Times: Unsafe Lead Levels in Tap Water Not Limited to Flint — "Unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city — in Durham and Greenville, N.C., in 2006; in Columbia, S.C., in 2005; and last July in Jackson, Miss., where officials waited six months to disclose the contamination — as well as in scores of other places in recent years."

The Atlantic: An American History of Lead Poisoning — "Over the past century, tens of millions of children have been poisoned by lead, mainly by its presence in old household paint. And many more will be, thanks to the hundreds of tons of lead paint that remains on the walls of houses, apartment buildings, and workplaces across the United States, decades after a federal ban. Many of the most vulnerable are children living in poor neighborhoods of color."

See A Map Of Youth Lead Exposure By State

Producer's Note: 21 states do not send or provide lead exposure numbers to the Federal government. (Vox)
Producer's Note: 21 states do not send or provide lead exposure numbers to the Federal government. (Vox)

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