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Reuters report that exposes childhood lead poisoning risks in California communities includes Emeryville

1 min read

A December Reuters investigative report exposed that parts of California and even some Bay Area communities have higher levels of lead exposure than those in Flint, Michigan. Cities like Emeryville with aging housing and a legacy of industry are particularly vulnerable to childhood lead poisoning. Current Emeryvile Mayor Scott Donahue conceded that his own adult daughter has higher than average lead levels that he attributed to his residential proximity to Judson Steel which shuttered in 1991.

Former Emery School Board member Joy Ashe and Vice Mayor John Bauters are profiled in the piece that exposes the avoidable effects of lead poisoning in our children. Ashe has been outspoken regarding property renovations near her home that could expose her family and neighbors to lead and other pollutants. Bauters is the Chairperson of our County’s Joint Powers Authorities.

Emeryville is looking to promote awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning and take preemptive action to prevent exposure by unsafe practices. Alameda County Healthy Homes Director of Operations at Larry Brooks makes recommendations on best practices for reducing exposure and preventing another national embarrassment such as in Flint. Emeryville is proposing an ordinance to require proof that contractors will adhere to EPA standards before they renovate older housing.

The Alameda County Lead Poisoning and Healthy Homes presentation to council can be viewed in the feature area of this post.

Joy Ashe holds her one year old son Zion outside their Emeryville home.

Lead poisoning afflicts neighborhoods across California

By Joshua Schneyer

Dozens of California communities have experienced recent rates of childhood lead poisoning that surpass those of Flint, Michigan, with one Fresno locale showing rates nearly three times higher, blood testing data obtained by Reuters shows.

The data shows how lead poisoning affects even a state known for its environmental advocacy, with high rates of childhood exposure found in a swath of the Bay Area and downtown Los Angeles. And the figures show that, despite national strides in eliminating lead-based products, hazards remain in areas far from the Rust Belt or East Coast regions filled with old housing and legacy industry.

In one central Fresno zip code, 13.6 percent of blood tests on children under six years old came back high for lead. That compares to 5 percent across the city of Flint during its recent water contamination crisis. In all, Reuters found at least 29 Golden State neighborhoods where children had elevated lead tests at rates at least as high as in Flint.

Read More on →

Read the “Unsafe at any Level” Reuters Investigation →

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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