>> Since the late 1970's, lead has largely been faced out of things like paint and gasoline. But the soft poisonous metal can still be found in thousands of US communities today. Take St. Joseph Missouri, where Lorenda Minari says her son Caden was diagnosed with lead poisoning, and required immediate intervention.
The culprit, old peeling lead paint.>> I was scared. That was the first time any of my children had lead poisoning, so I didn't know what was going to happen to him.>> An inspector advised Minari to repaint the house, but her family can only afford a partial fix.
>> When you buy your own home, it's up to you. And we just weren't aware of it.>> Many others aren't aware of the hidden dangers of lead either, and most of the headlines have been dominated by Flint, Michigan's old water pipes. But Reuters reporter Michael Pell says, Flint doesn't even rank among the most dangerous lead hot spots in the country.
>> Some of the neighborhoods with the highest percentage of lead-poisoned children in the state of Missouri, are here in St Joseph. In these neighborhoods, about one in five children tested had elevated blood lead levels. By way of comparison, in Flint Michigan about 5% of children tested, had elevated blood lead levels at the pick of that cities lead crisis.
In St Joseph, the number was twice that. Dr Cynthia Brownfield, a pediatrician in St. Joseph who renovated a Victorian home on Museum Hill, says even her kids developed high lead levels.>> Two of my children did test positive for elevated lead levels, and one of them was pretty high at a level or 23.
Lead was in multiple places. We had a lot of it on our full grained painted window sashes, that was probably our biggest exposure. But it was also in our clawfoot tubs, our fireplace tiles, and even in the soil around our house.>> Lead hazards don't just imperil neighborhoods in Missouri.
Nationwide the CDC says children in at least 4 million US households are exposed to high levels of lead. And the victims span the American spectrum poor, rich, rural, urban, black, and white. Exposure to lead can cause learning disabilities, seizures, and damage to the kidneys and nervous system. Still a Reuter's analysis found that many small children go untested for lead, and funding to tackle the problem has dwindled.
>> I think in St. Joseph, we're gonna continue to see elevated lung levels unless something more is done. This is something that is effecting children for the rest of their lives. We need to recognize there are some things more important than the money.