School Climate & Safety News in Brief

Lead Poisoning in Pa. and N.J. May Be Worse Than in Flint

By Tribune News Service — February 16, 2016 1 min read

The national uproar over lead poisoning in Flint, Mich., has drawn renewed attention to a children’s health crisis that has plagued Pennsylvania and New Jersey for decades.

The states’ own data show that 18 cities in Pennsylvania and 11 in New Jersey may have an even higher share of children with dangerously elevated levels of lead than does Flint.

The reports, released in 2014, were recirculated this month by health advocates trying to draw attention to the lead problem.

“We’re not trying to take anything away from Flint,” said Elyse Pivnick, the director of environmental health for Isles Inc., a community-development organization in Trenton, N.J. “But, whoa, we have to tell the story of lead in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, too.”

Regional health officials, while expressing concern for children exposed to lead, insisted that the advocates were mismatching data and failing to recognize the progress that has been made.

The biggest source of lead remains chipping and flaking paint in old and unmaintained houses. Despite improvements in recent years, blood-lead levels remain high, especially among poor children.

Dr. Tom Vernon, a Philadelphia physician and former director of Colorado’s health department, agreed that lead is less of a problem these days because of measures such as removing it from gasoline and paint. “But that good news is offset by what we’re learning about the effects on school achievement and executive function at lower and lower levels of lead exposure,” he said.

No lead exposure for children is safe, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but a blood-lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter is the threshold that should trigger action.

In Pennsylvania, 13,000 children younger than 7 were known to have blood-lead levels higher than 5 in 2014, a decrease of nearly 7 percent from the previous year. In the New Jersey report, more than 5,400 children were similarly affected.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 17, 2016 edition of Education Week as Lead Poisoning in Pa. and N.J. May Be Worse Than in Flint

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
The Social-Emotional Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on American Schoolchildren
Hear new findings from an analysis of our 300 million student survey responses along with district leaders on new trends in student SEL.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Opinion The Police-Free Schools Movement Made Headway. Has It Lost Momentum?
Removing officers from school hallways plays just one small part in taking down the school policing system.
Judith Browne Dianis
4 min read
Image of lights on police cruiser
Getty
School Climate & Safety Spotlight Spotlight on Safe Reopening
In this Spotlight, review how your district can strategically apply its funding, and how to help students safely bounce back, plus more.

School Climate & Safety Video A Year of Activism: Students Reflect on Their Fight for Racial Justice at School
Education Week talks to three students about their year of racial justice activism, what they learned, and where they are headed next.
4 min read
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
David Zalubowski/AP
School Climate & Safety Interactive Which Districts Have Cut School Policing Programs?
Which districts have taken steps to reduce their school policing programs or eliminate SRO positions? And what do those districts' demographics look like? Find out with Education Week's new interactive database.
A police officer walks down a hall inside a school
Collage by Vanessa Solis/Education Week (images: Michael Blann/Digital/Vision; Kristen Prahl/iStock/Getty Images Plus )