Marilynne Wood first began researching lead poisoning in Toledo in order to investigate its potential correlation with school dropout and crime rates. A professor emeritus at the University of Toledo’s College of Nursing, her team started by speaking with nurses and screening children’s lead levels at local charter schools.
Throughout the process, Wood was able to confirm her suspicions: that the students struggling with behavioral and academic issues typically tested for elevated lead levels in their bodies.
Children can experience lead poisoning from a variety of sources, Wood said, including soil and even parents with occupations that expose them to lead, such as welding. But much of the danger originates within the walls of their own homes, where chipped and worn-down paint exposes children to its harmful contents.
Lead poisoning also continues to disproportionately impact low-income children and children of color, seeing an increase of cases in white and middle-class children. That trend is changing how residents view the issue, Gloria Smith, a member of the Toledo Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition, said.
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