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Louisville's Older, Poorer Neighborhoods Have Higher Risk of Lead Exposure

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A large percentage of Louisville’s Census tracts are high-risk for exposure to lead. That’s according to a new map compiled by Vox and the Washington State Department of Health.

To create the map, researchers used the two greatest risk factors for high lead levels: old houses and poverty.

When you combine the two, many areas in Jefferson County were a risk level of 10 — the highest risk level.

Those high-risk areas tend to be inside and directly outside the Watterson Expressway, where Louisville’s older homes are. They’re also slightly skewed toward West and South Louisville, where there are higher concentrations of poverty.

Take a look:

But this map doesn’t indicate where there are actually cases of lead poisoning. And the good news is that there are fewer cases than ever in Louisville.

Children are routinely screened at checkups, and when lead levels are high, their cases are referred to the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. Deputy Director Matt Rhodes said 20 years ago, the city had 500 active cases that required medical management. There are fewer than 50 now.

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