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In this Jan. 26, 2016, file photo, registered nurse Brian Jones draws a blood sample from a student at Eisenhower Elementary School in Flint, Mich.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

New investigation found thousands of US neighborhoods have worse lead poisoning than Flint


Nearly 3,000 U.S. neighborhoods have higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint, Mich., which drew national headlines after its lead poisoning hit crisis levels.

A Reuters investigation found while 5 percent of children in Flint had lead poisoning, that number reached as high as 50 percent in parts of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia. But they haven't received a fraction of the attention Flint has.

Hard to find trouble spots

Lead poisoning has long been linked to developmental disabilities.

Most states share data on the percentage of kids who test positive for excess lead. But it's often only broken down on a state or county level, which isn't always enough for officials to find the trouble spots.

Even in Flint, there's a stark contrast across zip codes -- kids downtown were more than twice as likely to test positive for excess lead.

Lack of funds, lack of data

There's not a lot of money available for preventing lead poisoning. Congress's most recent budget bill included $170 million for Flint. That's 10 times the CDC's annual budget for helping states with lead poisoning.

It get worse -- the data is incomplete. Reuters was only able to get data from 21 states. A similar investigation from USA Today, published in March, found thousands of water systems across all 50 states with dangerous levels of lead.

This chart shows the scope of the problem in Maryland.

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