Oakland kids exposed to more lead contamination than in Flint, Michigan

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Children in Oakland may be exposed to more lead contamination than residents in Flint, Michigan, according to a new report.

Nearly six percent of children tested in the area of Oakland's Fruitvale District within the 94601 zip code had elevated levels of lead in their blood, much higher than the national average of 2.5 percent.

During Flint's 2014-2015 water crisis, five percent of children there tested had elevated lead levels. Five hundred children were tested in Oakland.

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which provides drinking water to 1.4 million people in the East Bay, responded to the report Thursday, saying that, "the most common sources of lead in area homes is paint and soil, not water." Testing showed that EBMUD's water met, or surpasses federal and state drinking water requirements, according to the agency.

Alameda County's Healthy Homes Program keeps track of lead contamination in Oakland, and other cities. "Deteriorating lead-based paint is a primary source of lead poisoning," Larry Brooks with the department told ABC7 News.

Brooks says 90-percent of Oakland's homes were built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978. "You may have an older home that's been painted twenty times since 1978, but the problem is paint begins to deteriorate," he said.

The old lead paint can become exposed, and leach into the soil.

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo said it's going to take a concerted effort at all levels of government to fix the problem. "We need to address that issue that's the bottom line, whether this takes county, East Bay MUD, federal government, we need to be more responsive to the children of East Oakland," Gallo said.
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