High Lead Levels in Waco Mirror Flint, Michigan

An investigative report from the Waco Tribune-Herald reveals that cases of lead exposure in young children have soared in one Waco neighborhood even higher than the percentage of cases in Flint, Michigan two years ago.

Texas Department of State Health Services show that, statewide, 2.6 percent of children under age 6 have what the CDC considers dangerous lead levels. However, as revealed by the paper's investigation, in the 76707 ZIP code in north Waco, 17 percent of children are in the red zone. That's compared to Flint's highest rates of 10.6 percent.

City officials are not sure what is causing the spike, nor do they have any sort of prevention or education programs currently in place to combat the problem.

The neighborhood is made up of primarily older homes that are shellacked with lead paint — which is what might be causing elevated toxicity. In Flint, the city identified that a new water source higher in acidity had been leeching lead from old pipes and contaminating the water. 76707 is a lower-income area and comprised mostly of black and Latino residents.

Peter Tadin, environmental lead program coordinator at DSHS, said, “Waco has a problem with old housing...The best way to deal with it is to keep the paint from flaking, peeling, cracking and getting to the [dust-like] stage..."


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