Thursday, April 07, 2016

Tool shows risk of lead exposure by census tract; 55% of rural tracts are higher than average

The crisis in Flint, Mich., over lead in water supplies has caused concern about the safety and cleanliness of the water people drink. It turns out "that exposure risk is surprisingly difficult to estimate, due to a variety of state-by-state differences in reporting standards," Sarah Frostenson and Sarah Kliff report for Vox. They worked with epidemiologists in the Washington State Department of Health to add housing and poverty data to the mix to create a tool "that allows anyone to look up the risk exposure in their community."

"While only 17 rural tracts have a lead exposure risk of 10, the highest risk, 55 percent of rural areas have lead exposure risk levels of 6 or greater," Frostenson and Kliff write. "Some states with large percentages of rural census tracts, like Kansas and Nebraska, have large swaths of lead exposure risks. In Nebraska, 92 percent of rural areas have a lead risk exposure score of 6 or greater." (Vox map: Orange and red are higher levels of risk for lead exposure)

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