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Board of Health releases updated lead report

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, In. -- At Wednesday’s Board of Health meeting, a new report was released on the lead problem in St. Joseph County.

Since January, a research team from Notre Dame has been dedicated to organizing and analyzing the data. The work is led by Heidi Beidinger of the Board of Health.

Beidinger says faulty data collecting has made things difficult.

“Lead poisoning in our community has been around for a very long time. Public health has not done a great job of investing in lead prevention or detection for a very long time as well. So we are working with outdated systems to deal with this lead issue and this data analysis revealed that,” says Beidinger.

Between one third to a half of the lead screening data from 2005 to 2015 was missing or unusable.

“It’s not any one person’s issue. It’s all of our issue. We all have to come together and we have to figure out how we’re going to improve this system because we need this data to move forward,” says Beidinger.

In addition to improving data collection, the report revealed to researchers that screening rates could be improved.

At less than 10%, screening rates in the county are very low.

The report also outlines the areas and people most at risk.

Tract 6, or the near northwest side of the county, has the largest percent of cases. 36% of kids tested in that area have an elevated blood level above five micro-grams.

The report also suggests that efforts should be focused on kids under 7 and pregnant women.

Beidinger says continuing their analysis will strengthen their case when working to secure funding in the future.

“Data not only helps for funding issues but data helps us to be more targeted about how to reach those who are high risk. So where are the kids that are more likely to be exposed to lead? That’s the crux of it. So that’s number one we want to take care of the kids. Number two we want to go after more funding,” says Beidinger.

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