In These Times
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MILWAUKEE — Shyquetta McElroy’s son put up a sign in their front yard to celebrate his middle school graduation in June. McElroy says she felt like the “proudest mom on the planet.” But her elation was bittersweet. McElroy thinks back on how emotionally and intellectually grueling it’s been for her son. He is 14 and reads at a second-grade level. He has dyslexia, difficulty retaining information and debilitating migraines and anxiety. These issues, McElroy says, are because of childhood lead poisoning.
Wisconsin tested roughly a quarter of its children under age six for lead poisoning in 2018; 6.6 percent had blood lead levels of at least five micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), over double the national average of 2.6 percent.
The problem is worse among Black children, like McElroy’s son. A 2016 report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services found that, though Black children made up only 21 percent of children tested for lead poisoning, they accounted for half of all lead poisoning cases. In total, 13.2 percent of Black children tested had elevated lead levels, four times the rate of children with lead poisoning in Flint, Mich., that year.
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