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Axios Denver

Majority of Colorado children under age 6 have lead in their blood

By Alayna Alvarez,


A first-ever national analysis found that an estimated 72% of Colorado children under age 6 had lead detected in their blood, well above the national rate of 51%.

Why it matters: There's no blood lead level that has been identified as safe in kids, according to the CDC. Even low-level exposures can negatively affect IQ, behavior and academic achievement.

Driving the news: The recently released study , conducted between 2018 and 2020 and published in September by JAMA Pediatrics , is believed to be the first national analysis into the association between lead exposure and individual- and community-level factors, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes .

  • Researchers analyzed blood lead tests that Quest Diagnostics administered to 1.14 million U.S. children between October 2018 and February 2020.

By the numbers: The study shows 1.4% of Colorado children had blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter or greater, a standard the CDC uses to help identify elevated cases.

  • According to the state, about 1.8% of children in Denver Water's coverage area ages 6 and younger tested positive for elevated blood levels, the Denver Post reports .

Between the lines: Children from predominantly Black or Hispanic ZIP codes were disproportionately affected, compared with those in predominantly white ZIP codes.

  • Kids from areas with pre-1950s housing had significantly higher levels.

Go deeper to see how rates compare nationally

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