According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, one in 20 children in the state have elevated lead levels with children in 12 Georgia counties at higher risk. Increased attention has been directed at the lead contamination crisis in the aftermath of the City of Flint, Mich., where lead contaminated water resulted in the state to declare a “state of emergency.”
Yet, lead paint found in homes built before 1978 (before lead paint was banned), continues to pose a much bigger risk to the health and safety of children than the threat of lead contaminated water. According to Georgia’s Department of Public Health, only 43% of children between ages 1 and 2 have been tested for elevated levels of lead in their blood. High lead levels in blood can lead to irreversible long-term effects on children such as cognitive damage, behavioral disorders, and ADHD.
Roughly 50% of households in America still contain lead paint. Cities across the country are seeking increased funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control. Yet, the CDC has over the years invested less and less money in lead exposure programs such as lead testing in schools. Lead exposure disproportionately affects low-income communities who live in older homes that often miss out on public awareness campaigns and are less likely to have access to medical care.
CDC awarded Georgia $593,000 in 2011-2012. Yet, a federal budget cut led to a halt in the agency’s funding for lead programs in September 2012. Congress restored partial funding to CDC, with Georgia being awarded $366,992 in 2014 to cover the next three years.