Sunday, May 16, 2010

Startling lead levels for students in Detroit schools

Several articles in Sunday's Detroit Free Press, May 16, 2010, cover startling new findings about the level of lead in Detroit public school students and the correlation of lead levels with lower IQ's and test scores.

Lead contamination is found in older homes with lead-based paint in paint chips, dust, and soil. It is also found in lead pipes or faucets, some toys and pottery glazes, and dollar-store jewelry. Although there is no safe level of lead, a blood level of 5-9 micrograms per deciliter and above is considered to be lead poisoning. Its affects are most harmful in children under 6 years old. Lead poisoning shows up as learning problems, hyperactivity, and problems with reading, memory, and paying attention. There are ways to make the problem better with a stimulating environment and a healthy diet.

In a study by the Detroit Public Schools and the city health department, 58% of about 39,000 children tested had a history of lead poisoning. 60% of students who performed below grade level on 2008 standardized tests had elevated lead levels. 30 Detroit elementary schools had at least 35% of the student population with 5 micrograms of lead or more. The figure is likely far higher because half the children had no record of lead tests. Kids in special education had higher lead levels.

Links to the Detroit Free Press articles:

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