During the eighth Democratic presidential debate, candidate Hillary Clinton promised she would “commit within five years to remove lead from everywhere.” Vox’s Libby Nelson says that Clinton’s response to lead “could quietly become one of the biggest commitments of the campaign.”

Removing lead paint from all homes is estimated to cost roughly $260 billion with removing lead service lines and treating lead-laced soil adding to the expense. Heightened attention has been focused on lead following lead water crisis in Flint, Mich. However, the situation in Flint is just the tip of the iceberg.

Flint is an outlier: Most lead poisoning among American kids doesn't come from water, but from walls. As lead-based paint, used until 1978, deteriorates and peels, it turns to lead dust that children can swallow or inhale. There is a staggering amount of lead paint still coating the walls of American homes. A 2011 study estimated that 35 percent of all American homes still have lead-based paint, and 22 percent have paint deteriorating enough to be considered hazardous. Safely removing all the lead paint in American homes built before 1978 would cost around $260 billion, or $7,000 per house.
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