The number of children in the state with "elevated" lead levels – 10 or more micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood – dropped from more than 4,000 in 1995 to 584 last year, the Star Tribune reports. But there's a catch to what seems like good news: Federal health officials now say that a lead level of 5 or higher is the new benchmark for safety, and more than 3,000 children in Minnesota had lead levels at least that high.
New data was released by the Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday. Many people think lead is a problem of the past, Megan Curran, Director of Community Programs for the St. Paul Office of CLEARCorps USA, says in a health department press release. "But three-fourths of the homes in Minnesota were built before 1978, when the use of lead paint was banned in residential housing. Children living in these homes may still be at risk."
Lead Poison Prevention Week is observed nationwide from Oct. 21 to Oct. 27.