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San Antonio Has A Lead Pollution Problem

Many Americans were shocked last year when they learned about the high levels of lead in the municipal water of Flint, Michigan. In that city, about 5 percent of children were found to have elevated levels of lead in their bodies. But that level pales in comparison to many areas in Texas, including San Antonio.

The news agency Reuters collected data from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It showed that in two zip codes in the San Antonio area - 78202 and 78203 - more than 22 percent of children had elevated levels of lead in their bodies. This should be of great concern to parents and public health officials in affected areas, because elevated levels of lead in children can impair learning and cognitive abilities, reduce IQ, cause hearing loss, and result in behavioral problems.

The Reuters study has an interactive map that makes it easy to see the lead levels in zip codes in Texas and across the country. In the San Antonio area, these zip codes had the highest levels of lead:

Zip Code

City/Metropolitan Area

# of Children Tested

Elevated Levels of Lead

78201

San Antonio

5,158

11.07%

78202

San Antonio

2,630

22.66%

78203

San Antonio

1,394

22.24%

78204

San Antonio

1,720

13.02%

78225

San Antonio

2,015

10.02%

78210

San Antonio

6,374

17.05%

78212

San Antonio

2,572

14.15%

Other areas in Central Texas that had elevated lead levels include:

Zip Code

City/Metropolitan Area

# of Children Tested

Elevated Levels of Lead

77964

Halletsville

485

12.16%

77995

Yoakum

1,028

16.05%

78102

Beeville

2,144

12.55%

78164

Yorktown

220

15.91%

78629

Gonzales

1,756

18.51%

What Causes Elevated Levels Of Lead?

Lead that enters human bodies comes from several sources. Lead was once a common component in house paint. It was used in gasoline to increase the efficiency of combustion engines. Industrial plants that manufactured lead products sometimes polluted the soil surrounding those facilities. Lead was also used in pipes and solder. It is also used as a stabilizer in PVC pipes and is found in some jewelry and trinkets.

Leaded gasoline was the single greatest source of lead pollution until it was completely phased out in 1991. While lead paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978, it is currently the chief culprit, because thousands of homes throughout Texas and the nation have leaded paint.

Can anyone be held liable for lead pollution? Landlords who fail to address the problem of flaking lead-based paint or lead plumbing in their rental units could conceivably find themselves the target of lawsuits. As could any industrial company that has allowed lead to pollute soil or groundwater, or that uses lead in products used by children.

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