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For ParentsK-12LAUSD

Over 300 L.A. neighborhoods had higher rates of children with elevated lead levels than Flint, Mich.

The Exide Technologies plant in Vernon (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
The Exide Technologies plant in Vernon (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

As part of a nationwide investigation, the Reuters news service asked the Los Angles County Department of Health for records of blood tests and found that many children across the county have high levels of lead in their systems. You can read the investigation here.

A few numbers stand out:

  • More than 15,000 children younger than 6 had high lead levels in their blood between 2011 and 2015.

  • In 323 neighborhoods, the rate was as high or higher than that in Flint, Mich., whose toxic water has received intense news coverage.

  • San Marino is one of those places. There, 17% of younger kids tested had "elevated levels of lead in their blood." That's almost triple Flint's rate of 5%.

Why does it matter?  "Even a slight elevation [of lead] can reduce IQ and stunt childhood development," the Reuters report said. "There’s no safe level of lead in children’s bodies."

Lead has been found on the property of schools such as Jordan High School in Watts, where the school district sued the city's housing authority to cover the costs of cleaning up contamination from a nearby site. Last August, three Los Angeles elementary schools near the closed Exide Technologies battery recycling plant were found to have lead-contaminated soil.

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