St. Louis sees a dramatic drop in testing kids for lead exposure

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – There has been a dramatic drop in testing St. Louis children for dangerous lead exposure in their homes. The city spends a million dollars a year, mostly from grants, to test children for lead. It can cause serious health issues in kids.

Lead testing dropped dramatically during the pandemic, decreasing from 9,100 in 2019 to 3,600 in 2020. A lot of medical providers shut their doors, making it harder for children to get tested.

The pandemic also meant children were inside their homes longer and many were going to school virtually. Instead of being able to get out of the house for school or other activities.

The St. Louis Health Commissioner Dr. Fredrick Echols says he doesn’t have the evidence that lead exposure has increased but he says it’s something officials are keeping a close eye on.

The old homes in St. Louis contain a lot of lead paint. Follow FOX 2’s Elliott Davis as he goes out with the lead abatement crews who remove the lead from homes. The crews go to a home after a child has tested positive for lead. His report is in the video attached to this article. asked the city for its data showing lead exposure of children by zip code.

The data shows the percentage of children 6 and under that were considered to have high blood lead levels between 2016 and 2020. A high level is more than 5 micrograms per deciliter.

The 63118 ZIP CODE which includes Benton Park, Tower Grove East, and parts of Dutchtown and Gravois Park was the zip code with the highest percentage of kids testing positive at 11.56%

Then, the 63115 zip code came in at 11.39% of its children 6 and under had high levels. That area includes the Greater Ville, Mark Twain, and Kingsway East neighborhoods.

And 10.73% of children 6 and under in the 63107 neighborhood had high levels of lead. That includes the Fairgrounds Park, College Hill, and Hyde Park neighborhoods.

Here is all the data from the city.

Percent of Children Ages 0-6 with Blood Lead Levels > 5mcg/dL by Zipcode in St. Louis City for 2016-2020*
All Zipcodes7.54%6.68%5.86%5.86%6.44%6.53%

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