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New Hampshire Lags In Testing Kids For Lead

Jack Rodolico for NHPR

A new state law aims to boost the number of children screened for lead poisoning. There's good reason New Hampshire is aiming for that goal.

Children aged 0-6 are the most likely to suffer permanent health and cognitive damage from lead exposure. Yet in 2013, New Hampshire tested a mere 16.5 percent of children in this age group for elevated blood lead levels. That's concerning because 62 percent of New Hampshire's houses were built before 1978 - the year the federal government cracked down on lead paint.

The numbers are starker in communities with a combination of old housing stocks and a high percentage of children in poverty. Poor kids are more likely to live in old, dilapidated housing.

Meanwhile, lead screening rates in all of New Hampshire's neighbors are dramatically higher - a result of more aggressive lead policies than New Hampshire has on the books. 

Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR
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NHPR

Sara has been a part of NHPR since 2011. Her work includes data visualizations, data journalism, original stories reported on the web, video, photos and illustrations. She is responsible for the station's visual style and print design, as well as the user experience of NHPR's digital platforms.
Before joining NHPR in August 2014, Jack was a freelance writer and radio reporter. His work aired on NPR, BBC, Marketplace and 99% Invisible, and he wrote for the Christian Science Monitor and Northern Woodlands.
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