New Orleans Children Suffer from Lead Poisoning

Children In New Orleans Suffer From Five Times The Federal Guidelines For Lead In Their Blood

Featured in National Geographic as “one of the best documented environmental health threats to children,” neighborhoods in New Orleans are now taking measures to decrease levels of lead in their children's blood.

Many children have registered with alarmingly high levels of lead in their blood. Lead has been discovered in abundance among playgrounds, homes and daycares throughout New Orleans.

Dangerous lead concentrations were recently discovered in the yards of almost two-thirds of New Orleans homes that were tested. In screenings done in 2013 alone, nearly a thousand children six years and younger—15 percent—had levels high enough to be deemed lead poisoning, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

Linked to lower IQs, learning disabilities, attention problems, and other neurological effects, the City can’t move fast enough to eradicate this lead being exposed to children.

Before Katrina, more than 100,000 New Orleans homes had been built before 1950; an estimated 83 percent of them contained lead hazards. Before Katrina roughly half of kids tested in neighborhoods with highly contaminated soil had lead poisoning, according to Tulane University researcher Howard Mielke, who has studied the effects of lead on children's health for more than 40 years.

Three years after the hurricane, the rate had dropped to about 30 percent of kids in those same neighborhoods. In areas with less-contaminated soil, it declined even more—from roughly 25 percent before Katrina to 7.5 percent afterward.

Statewide, there was no apparent decline in lead poisoning.