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Tests Find Youth Lead Poisoning Declining In Detroit Enclave

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A recent report showing 1 in 7 children tested positive for lead poisoning two years ago in the Detroit enclave of Highland Park still represented an improvement over previous years, according to historic data.

About 14 percent of Highland Park children who had their blood tested revealed elevated lead levels in 2016, compared with nearly 38 percent in 2008, the Detroit News reported .

The state's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program released its 2016 data report last month.

The report said Michigan's elevated blood lead levels have declined more than 42 percent since 1998, but exposure continues to endanger children living in the state's older urban communities.

Highland Park had the highest percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels every year from 2008 through 2016 when compared with Detroit, Adrian, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck, Jackson, Lansing and Muskegon.

The percentage declined in Detroit from more than 20 percent in 2008 to less than 9 percent in 2016.

Officials said it will likely take decades and millions of dollars to get rid of the lead endangering children in Highland Park and surrounding areas, where many homes were built before 1978 when lead was banned from use in house paint.

Homes built at that time are also likely connected to the local water system by lead service lines.

"I'd like to have some direct funding for Highland Park," said Herbert Yopp, the city's mayor. "We are certainly concerned. We know some little kids even eat that stuff, and it is harmful."

Lead levels are considered elevated in children 6 and younger with 5 micrograms per deciliter in their blood.

High blood lead levels can lead to developmental problems, behavioral disorders and learning difficulties, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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