In 2017, Reuters published a map on lead poisoning among children across the nation. The story examined where children were tested for lead and how many had high levels of the toxic metal in their blood. At that time, NM Political Report spent months trying to speak directly with experts at the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) about that exact issue.
But Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration wouldn’t allow that. And we never got a complete picture of how state officials were handling childhood lead exposure.
Recently, however, Heidi Krapfl, the deputy division director of the Epidemiology and Response Division at DOH, walked NM Political Report through some of the data on lead exposure among children and talked about the department’s efforts to increase test rates statewide.
For children, there is no safe exposure to lead, which causes permanent neurological damage and behavioral disorders. Severe lead poisoning can lead to seizures, coma and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s a widespread problem: The CDC estimates four million households nationwide have children who are exposed to high levels of lead.
But, said Krapfl, it’s also a preventable problem.
The need for more testing
“Lead exposure in New Mexico is pretty different than say, on the east coast, where you have older homes and typically, a child with elevated blood levels, it’s a child who has been eating paint flecks,” Krapfl explained. Then there was the emergency in […]