Lead Poisoning Is A Problem for Connecticut Children, National Study Reveals

A Reuters news service examination of lead testing results across the country found almost 3,000 areas with poisoning rates far higher than in Flint, Michigan, which was the focus of national attention this year for its dangerously tainted water supply. reuters-investigates-logoThe review and analysis found at least seven areas in Connecticut, based on zip code geography, where the percentage of children found to have elevated lead levels exceeded – more than doubled – the percentage in Flint.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nationwide, around 2.5 percent of children ages 0-6 have an elevated lead level, defined as 5 micrograms/deciliter or higher. Among small children tested in Flint, Michigan during the peak of that city’s lead contamination crisis, 5 percent had elevated levels, or double the average.sign

In many neighborhoods – census tracts or zip code areas – across the country, a far higher rate of children have tested high in recent years.  The zip codes in Connecticut with elevated lead levels in more than 5 percent of children tested include more than a dozen neighborhoods and communities scattered across the state, with the highest levels  in the towns of Canaan and Sharon, and the cities of Bridgeport, New Haven, and Waterbury.

mapThe State Department of Public Health website indicates that “childhood lead poisoning is the most common pediatric public health problem, yet it is entirely preventable. Once a child has been poisoned, the impairment it may cause is irreversible. Lead harms children’s nervous systems and is associated with reduced IQ, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities.”

Since the 1970s, U.S. efforts to eradicate childhood lead poisoning have made what Reuters describes as “remarkable progress,” while pointing out that “the advances have been uneven.”  Legacy lead – in paint, plumbing, yards, well-water or even playgrounds – means that kids in many neighborhoods remain at a disproportionately high risk of poisoning, the news service report explained.

The news service conducted a nationwide analysis of childhood blood lead testing data at the neighborhood level. Census tract or zip code level data reflecting the local prevalence of elevated lead tests was obtained from 21 states, including Connecticut.  The highest prevalence was found in:

Zip Code                              Tested Children /Elevated Results

06031 Canaan                    107 / 15.89%

06608 Bridgeport            8,602 / 13.32%

06511 New Haven            15,731/12.88%

06519 New Haven            8,318 / 11.95%

06607 Bridgeport             4,079/10.9%

06710 Waterbury             6,133/ 10.48%

06069    Sharon                  137 /10.22%

Across the country, Reuters found nearly 3,000 areas with recently recorded lead poisoning rates at least double those in Flint during the peak of that city’s contamination crisis. And more than 1,100 of these communities had a rate of elevated blood tests at least four times higher.

Reuters reports that zip codes have average populations of 7,500. In each area, a relatively small number of children are screened for lead poisoninglead_free_kids_logo_web each year, the report indicated.

The poisoned places stretch from Warren, Pennsylvania, a town on the Allegheny River where 36 percent of children tested had high lead levels, to a zip code on Goat Island, Texas, where a quarter of tests showed poisoning, the Reuters analysis indicated. In some pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, where lead poisoning has spanned generations, the rate of elevated tests over the last decade was 40 to 50 percent.

“I hope this data spurs questions from the public to community leaders who can make changes,” said epidemiologist Robert Walker, co-chair of the CDC’s Lead Content Work Group, which analyzes lead poisoning nationwide. “I would think that it would turn some heads.”

The findings, Walker told Reuters, will help inform the public about risks in their own neighborhoods and allow health officials to seek lead abatement grants in the most dangerous spots.

Congress recently directed $170 million in aid to Flint - 10 times the CDC’s budget for assisting states with lead poisoning this year, Reuters reported.

More US Cities Seek to Join Stamford in Commitment to Energy, Water Usage Reductions in Commercial Buildings

Efforts are underway this year for seven additional cities, from Albuquerque to Ann Arbor, to follow Stamford and seven others across the nation, in making a long-term commitment to reduce energy and water consumption in commercial buildings and reduce emissions from transportation, while increasing competitiveness in the business environment and owners' returns on investment. The “2030 District” initiative began with Seattle in 2011, grew by two cities in 2012, to four in 2013, and then to eight in 2014 when Stamford joined Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, and San Francisco as a 2030 District.  Now working towards the designation, in addition to Albuquerque and Ann Arbor, are Detroit, San Antonio, Ithaca, Toronto and Portland.Stamford---Website

Across the United States and Canada, 2030 Districts are forming with greater frequency to meet incremental energy, water and vehicle emissions reduction targets for existing buildings and new construction called for by Architecture 2030 in the 2030 Challenge for Planning.  Districts are generally private/public partnerships that commit to dramatic reductions in water consumption and energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as adaptation and resiliency actions that address projected climatic impacts.

The Stamford 2030 District – launched this past  November - is an interdisciplinary public-private-nonprofit collaborative working to create a groundbreaking high performance building district in downtown Stamford.  Leading the way in the Stamford 2030 District are the Business Council of Fairfield County and Connecticut Fund for the Environment. As Stamford is a coastal city, its 2030 District will also implement a proactive vision to ensure resiliency against projected sea-level rise and storm surge.

The Stamford 2030 District – the first in New England - began with 23 founding members, including 11 property owners and 12 prominent professional and community stakeholders committed to meeting the 2030 Districts goals and targets. High performance buildings have proven track records of simultaneously increasing business and property profitability, reducing environmental impacts, and improving occupant health.Stamford

Now in the process of assessing the District’s current building performance levels, one-on-one assistance is provided to property owners and managers in benchmarking their buildings.  In addition, a first-time webinar will be held this week, on Wednesday, February 18, with several founding members highlighting best practices and procedures:

  • Jay Black of SL Green Realty/Reckson Properties will offer industry perspective through his experience with benchmarking buildings in both NY and CT.
  • WegoWise will present an overview of their web-based software that is able to benchmark a portfolio and provide deeper analytics into a buildings’ energy performance to find savings opportunities.
  • Steven Winter and Associates will demonstrate how to take benchmarking a step further with tools such as building energy audits to help identify opportunities within the building.
  • New Neighborhoods, Inc. will serve as a case study project in Stamford that has contracted with WegoWise for their benchmarking and will share their experience.

Officials indicate that District Members develop realistic, measurable, and innovative strategies to assist district property owners, managers, and tenants in meeting aggressive goals that keep properties and businesses competitive while operating buildings more efficiently, reducing costs, and reducing the environmental impacts of facility construction, operation, and maintenance.

Stamford2030boundary“These collective efforts will establish the Stamford 2030 District as an example of a financially viable, sustainability focused, multi-sector driven effort that maximizes profitability and prosperity for all involved. Through collaboration of diverse stakeholders, leveraging existing and developing new incentives and financing mechanisms, and creating and sharing joint resources, the Stamford 2030 District will prove the business case for healthy and high performing buildings.”

Property owners and managers are voluntarily committing their properties to Stamford 2030 District goals; they are not required to achieve the District goals through legislative mandates or as individuals.

“Stamford is already a business leader in Connecticut. The Stamford 2030 District will make the city a sustainability leader nationwide,” said Megan Saunders, Executive Director of the Stamford 2030 District. With over 170 million square feet of commercial building space (including 6 million thus far in Stamford), 2030 Districts are rapidly emerging as a new model for urban sustainability, officials indicate.

The Stamford 2030 District provides members a roadmap and the support they need to own, manage, and develop high performance buildings by leveraging Community and Professional Stakeholders, market resources, and by creating new tools, partnerships, and opportunities to overcome current market barriers. This type of collaborative action is not only a strategic undertaking to keep Stamford competitive in the year 2030, but also represents a major investment in Stamford's future and reflects the collaborative nature of our region.