New Hampshire Lags In Testing Kids For Lead

Jul 20, 2015

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