Nearly 3,000 US Communities Have Lead Levels Higher Than Flint

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Nadia Prupis via,

A Reuters investigation this week uncovered nearly 3,000 different communities across the U.S. with lead levels higher than those found in Flint, Michigan, which has been the center of an ongoing water contamination crisis since 2014.

click image for link to interactive map...

The investigation found that many of the hot-spots are receiving little attention or funding. Local healthcare advocates said they hope the reporting will spur action from influential community leaders.

All of the communities Reuters investigated had lead levels at least two times higher than Flint’s; more than 1,000 were four times higher. In most cases, the local data covered a 5- to 10-year period through 2015, the analysis states.

Areas affected by lead poisoning populate the map from Texas to Pennsylvania, reported Reuters‘ M.B. Pell and Joshua Schneyer. The available data charts 21 states that are home to about 61 percent of the U.S. population.

Despite the massive drop in lead poisoning rates since the 1970s—when heavy metals were phased out of paint and gasoline—many communities throughout the country are still at risk.

“The national mean doesn’t mean anything for a kid who lives in a place where the risks are much higher,” said Dr. Helen Egger, chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Child Study Center.

Like Flint, many of the communities are mired in “legacy lead,” Reuters reported—old industrial waste, crumbling paint, or corrosive pipes. But few have received help or attention.

Contamination in children can cause cognitive difficulties, which in turn can lead to low school performance, few job opportunities, and trouble with the law. That cycle was examined last year when 25-year-old Baltimore resident Freddie Gray died after his spine was severed in police custody. Amid protests against brutality and racism, many noted that Gray experienced lead poisoning as a child while living in an area with persistently high exposure levels.

But the problem is nationwide and affects a vast spectrum of communities, Reuters writes. Milwaukee, Wisconsin still has “135,000 prewar dwellings with lead paint, and 70,000 with lead water service lines,” and $50 million has already been spent to protect the city’s children. Many families do not have the funds to make the repairs themselves, and laws requiring owners to remove lead from their properties are not consistent state by state.

“Reporters visited several of the trouble spots: a neighborhood with many rundown homes in South Bend, Indiana; a rural mining town in Missouri’s Lead Belt; the economically depressed North Side of Milwaukee,” Pell and Schneyer write. “In each location, it was easy to find people whose lives have been impacted by lead exposure. While poverty remains a potent predictor of lead poisoning, the victims span the American spectrum—poor and rich, rural and urban, black and white.”

In St. Joseph, Missouri, one of the most contaminated neighborhoods included in the study, even a local pediatrician’s children had lead poisoning.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate approved a $170 million aid package to repair Flint’s corrosive pipes and fund recovery efforts. But that is 10 times the budget the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allotted for lead poisoning assistance this year, Reuters notes.

“I hope this data spurs questions from the public to community leaders who can make changes,” epidemiologist Robert Walker, co-chair of the CDC’s Lead Content Work Group, told Reuters. “I would think that it would turn some heads.”

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
1980XLS's picture

I don't drink the Gov't Kool-Aid.

Have my own well. All under control.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) buzzsaw99 Dec 21, 2016 6:08 PM

1: Don't trust Central Planning.

2: Use a water filter no matter what your supply is.


(Edit:  Oh, yeah... Obama's fault!!!)

Oracle 911's picture

Lead in the water/food dumb down the children's, that is one of the reasons why the Americans are so dumb.

demi urge's picture

You forgot gasoline... the single largest purveyor of lead contamination in the USA from the 40's - early 80's.

Inhaleable even!


Meh. It's just lead. 

Wait until they figure out what is in fracking water currently being used along with city sewage water for irrigation of "organic vegetables" in California's Central Valley.  

It's okay to use sewage, 'cause they just use the liquid waste, not the solid waste.

Fracking water ? Well, if it is good for oil, it's good for you.  

demi urge's picture

Lol at 'just lead!'

In developing kids, it doesn't get much worse.

Sewage? Meh.  It's just shit. A bunch of organics. So there's a few pathogens? A little ecoli? Buck up, pussy.

Fracking water? Meh. It's injected a thousand feet into the ground. Gonna take many years for it to impact anyone, right? Right?


And no, nobody's using frack water for irrigation in the Central Valley. (Funnily enough I was there last week, testing water.)


You want to talk about shit? Let's discuss the commingled storm and sanitary sewers prevalant on the east coast that send turdbergs flowing straight into surface waterways during heavy storms.

demi urge's picture

True, in the older cities and towns especially.  Good point.

cheka's picture

and dc just gave flint tens of millions of dollars that were taken from us.  somehow i missed that federal power in the constitution. 

dc will have the power to steal money from one group to give to another group that mismanages their water system?

demi urge's picture

Could certainly be argued that DC had a very large part in helping mismanage their water system.

The EPA covered it up for years.


Duh - you forgot industrial cleaners, household chemicals, Missie's birth control pills one pee at a time, and everyones recycled medications and antibiotics. All part of a balanced diet. 

Fracking water- injected into the ground, which, coincidentally, is where a large percentage of the population gets their drinking water from. Well, well, well. Plus, not all of it stays in the ground once it is used to crack oil bearing rock. It is cheaper to "recycle" it as opposed to actually separating out the witches brew of shit put into it to begin with. It is being used under permit as irrigation water. 

You prolly think fluroide and Round Up are natural organic ingredients for drinking water too.

Fuck tard.  

de3de8's picture

Not to mention illegal disposing of everything under the sun via sanitary sewer system.

demi urge's picture

No, kind sir, I don't think any of those things.

Odd that you would project those on to me.

I was making fun of you for thinking lead was a 'natural organic ingredient' for drinking water 'too.'

Sorry that I had to spell it out for you. I thought using your identical language would give you a clue, but it's pretty obvious you don't have one.

Good luck! You'll need it! 

Donald J. Trump's picture

I never understood that, or I understand it and it's as fucked up as it seems.  Every rainstorm my city pulls out the giant pumps and pumps the storm water out of the storm drain and into the sanitary (or vice versa for all I know).  But when you buy or sell a house you have to have your 2 systems inspected to make sure you're not cross contaminating and you have to fix any problems before the sale.  Also all houses have to have sump pumps installed, even if they've never had a problem for over 100 years.


Lead is serious, but only one small component in the shit called drinking water anywhere in North America at this time. If you are not seriously filtering all of your drinking and washing water, you are asking for long term trouble.

Bare minimum should be a 3 stage system for drinking water, ideally after a whole house 3 stage system. Whole house should be 10 - 20 inch 3 stage filters - a 5 micron, a carbon block, and a KDF GAC. Drinking water should be an additional carbon block, a fluroide filter, and an anti radiation / chemical filter.

Why ? Because Fukushima didn't go away, and airborne contaminants from coal burning overseas are making their way here on the jetstream to contaminate lakes and rivers. 

Do your due diligence - 96 percent of your sorry ass is water. Better make it as clean as humanly fucking possible.  

Seek_Truth's picture

Whatevever the ACTUAL percentage of our bodies is "water"- 100 % of our life is due to Jesus Christ.

ACCEPT Him as Lord- or perish!

demi urge's picture

No shit, Sherlock.

You could do that... or you could have an RO system... or you could have a distillation still... 

There are more options that multi-media filters.

(Psst... I design industrial metal water treatment plants.)

Boondocker's picture

2 billion chinese....honey buckets....hmmm

fbazzrea's picture

fracking water??

they do waaay better (worse) than that. here's a July 2016 newspaper article from Duncan OK:

Water quality tests showed the presence of ammonium perchlorate – a toxic salt mineral known to be used in fireworks and explosives and as missile fuel – in 2011. Halliburton used to remove spent jet fuel at a location in the area. The suit alleges the contamination occurred over a 40-year period.

The process released the ammonium perchlorate compound into the groundwater and into private water wells.

Michigander's picture

Use a GOOD whole house water filter.

Municipalities do not test for pharmacologicals or radiologicals. Both are loaded into all water systems. Fluoride is absorbed through the skin when bathing.

1980XLS's picture

Yes I have. Clean as a whistle.

Ignatius's picture

"Clean as a whistle."

As should be true for every water supply across the US.

The true cost of the 'war on terror,' bitchez -- dirty water.

11b40's picture

Me, too, but I still use a Brita filter for all the water we drink....and we drink a lot of it.

demi urge's picture

Activated carbon does a fair job... but it doesn't get it all. Need activated alumina or something simliar for the rest.

thecondor's picture

I use the Zero Water filter.  I saw some test done by a independent lab and it was the best. 

demi urge's picture

Definitely better than 2 stage activated carbon filters! (Pur and Brita)

I've never seen results on it for flouride though.

techpriest's picture

Look into the Berkey filters. If you like having a water cooler type dispenser, they are great at removing most everything, and also get the activated alumina for fluoride.

Also, I use the shower filter and am about to load up on some more. I used to get some really awful dry skin (skin peeling off my hands - painful!), and after installing one of these my skin was back to normal in just one week.

(Note: it's less than half the price on Amazon, if you don't mind buying from there)

Urban Redneck's picture

Yes I tested the water from both wells, as well as the backup rainwater cistern.

Even though there was no lead, I still spent $500 on a big bucket of KDF55 for the backwashing filter assembly.

My advice (do as I say, not as I do) is to talk to some experts, if you find any good ones, pay them (water treatment analysis and design is way beyond what the average residential plumber does well).  

demi urge's picture

I'm here if you ever need me. ZH discount. Professional Environmental Engineer.  Mostly perform water analysis and design treatment systems for metals.  (And a millenial! *watches ZH melt*)

Orly's picture

I've been telling y'all (underneath the newly-fallen snowflakes...):

The Kids Are Alright


TheEndIsNear's picture

So where can I send my water to have it tested?

Blankman's picture

Environmental labs that are accredited.

Urban Redneck's picture

Very good to know, thanks.  But I actually wanted to spend the 100+ hours on theory to supplement my plumbing & engineering skillz, but I recognize that's a luxury most don't have.  The one area of environmental engineering I have adamantly refused to seriously study was HVAC math, so of course my calculations were off and the adjusted indoor temperature fluctuates from 55-70F instead of 60-65F, but since my goal was simply no pipes freezing and never needing the utility heater to kick on - it was good enough for non-government work. 

demi urge's picture

Hey, at 55 you just need a good blanket! :)


Even solid, trained engineers can get bitten by some of those thermo calcs... especially in retrofit situations. What were you doing? Geothermal?

Urban Redneck's picture

It was actually new construction-

Radiant heat/cooling from the earth (not geothermal) plus radiant heat from the various mechanical systems and a server rack - cooling from a 2000g water tower that pumped from a 600ft and a 900ft well.  

The perimeter walls are 16in fully grouted and reinforced CMU walls to 36" below grade, above that double wythe CMU 8 & 6" with 2 inches of vermiculite, and the exterior below grade had both styroboard and blanket over a double layer of tar.

The floor above was 2x pine decking that doubled as a spall screen, then an airgapped radient barrier and blueboard, then a 8in reinforced slab designed to 150psf live (plus the 3 safety factor) just in case I ever chose park a Brinks truck or a tank in the garage above.

Of course the grade the wouldn't be flat or the math might be might be remotely possible for me without specialized software that I wasn't going to buy... so I made do with Octave, Excel, and pen & paper.



Takeaction2's picture
Takeaction2 (not verified) 1980XLS Dec 21, 2016 6:13 PM

I have the Berkey Bad Boy Filtration System.  Just to be safe.

Son of Loki's picture

I stick only to pure Round-Up. Don't even need the filtration system!

demi urge's picture

They don't come much better! Especially with the activated alumina Berkey cartridge.

c2nnib2l's picture

In memory of the Truck Driver that was killed in Germany. He was the only family provider and was brutally killed by a terrorist.

Hinge Thunder's picture

I have land in Adams County Wisconsin..  Good brewing water up there..  Have a well that is pure delicious, and tested clean..  We fill those big blue jugs and bring it home to drink and cook all year round also..  Normally have Lake michigan city water delivered in lead pipe at home..   Maybe not so good...

Seek_Truth's picture

I have land all over the Appalachians that are pure as can be. I don't need to rely on gubmint "tests", though! I KNOW that when I need to hike 12 miles into the wilderness, over mountains, at high elevations, that my water I drink is as PURE as it can be! NOTHING like hiking to get your water! NOTHING!

buzzsaw99's picture

new york data not available. how convenient.

Forbes's picture

AFIK, the lead issue was addressed by NYS in the '70s. (Lead pipes were replaced.) Can't speak to NYC--it often has different rules/regs as implementation policies are given over to the city.

demi urge's picture

NYC has some of the finest quality tap water on the east coast thanks to their massive viaducts from upstate feeder lakes.

Handful of Dust's picture

VERY slow!

Even yahoo has only 1 article bashing Trump today --- they usually have at least 6. But here's the Loser written in that left wing soros-funded rag, Salon and invariably put on another left wing propaganda site, Yahoo:


Donald Trump and the death of “presidential”: Will this clown destroy what’s left of America’s prestige?

They get more ridiculous every day.