Persistent Poison: Lead's Toxic Legacy in the Bay Area

Credit Marissa Ortega-Welch

Lead paint was banned in 1978. But 40 years later there are neighborhoods in the Bay Area that have higher rates of childhood lead poisoning than Flint, Michigan — where a recent lead-poisoning crisis made national news.

To learn more about this ongoing public-health crisis, KALW News environment and health reporters Angela Johnston and Marissa Ortega-Welch spent more than a year sifting data, conducting interviews, chasing down public records, and going into the field.

Their research reveals the troubling and persistent intersection of childhood lead poisoning with ongoing Bay Area issues of housing, immigration and public health.

Marissa Ortega-Welch/KALW

 

This is the first story in our four-part series “Persistent Poison: Lead’s Toxic Legacy in the Bay Area  

A 2017 Reuters report showed that a few Bay Area neighborhoods have some of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the country.

Angela Johnston

 

This is the second story in our four-part series  “Persistent Poison: Lead’s Toxic Legacy in the Bay Area,” an in-depth look at childhood lead poisoning in the Bay Area.

Marissa Ortega-Welch

 

This is the third story in our four-part series  “Persistent Poison: Lead’s Toxic Legacy in the Bay Area,” an in-depth look at childhood lead poisoning in the Bay Area.

The numbers show the lead poisoning problem in the Bay Area is bad — but is what we know just the tip of the iceberg?

Angela Johnston

 

This is the last story in our four-part series “Persistent Poison: Lead’s Toxic Legacy in the Bay Area.”  

In Alameda County, which has some of the highest lead levels in the country, an energetic public health nurse helps families after their child has been lead poisoned. But her work is a stopgap solution. What’s the answer to preventing leading poisoning before it starts?

Sulfur CC-BY-SA-3.0 Wikimedia Commons

 

This is part of our series  “Persistent Poison: Lead’s Toxic Legacy in the Bay Area,” an in-depth look at childhood lead poisoning in the region.

CC Flickr User Mike Linksvayer, resized and recropped

 

This is part of our series  “Persistent Poison: Lead’s Toxic Legacy in the Bay Area,” an in-depth look at childhood lead poisoning in the region.

 

Marissa Ortega-Welch

Concerned about lead? Resources vary by city and county, but here are a few starting points.

 

Testing your child’s blood for lead

If you have private insurance or Medi-Cal, ask your primary care provider. All health insurance plans are required to pay for the blood lead test.

 

If you are uninsured, contact your local county health system to enroll in a county health care program.