As 2016 draws to a close, Flint, Michigan remains at the center of the lead poisoning problem in the U.S. Residents in Flint still do not have access to clean drinking water due to the government's rerouting of Flint's water supply from clean water in Detroit to the contaminated Flint River. Although Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint on Jan. 5, 2016, there is still no solution in sight.
The lead problem in the U.S. may reach far beyond Michigan. The federal government banned the sale of lead-based paint in 1978, but many Americans live in homes built long before then. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, homes built before 1979 have at least a 24 percent chance of containing lead-based paint. That figure jumps to 87 percent with homes built before 1940.
HealthGrove, a health data site by Graphiq, found the top two counties in every state with the most old homes. Using data from Center for Disease Control's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, HealthGrove found the percentage of houses built before 1950 in each state, and the percentage of houses built between 1950 and 1979 in each state. The two counties with the highest proportions (respectively) were ranked. States are listed alphabetical order.
It's important to be aware of the hazards in your home, or a home you are considering buying. Lead is not necessarily dangerous when left undisturbed, but when paint begins to decay, or children pick at it and put it in their mouths, lead poisoning can occur. Symptoms range from nausea and fatigue to seizures and learning disabilities. Old homes are more likely to be at risk for lead poisoning, and in many counties throughout the U.S., up to two-thirds of homes likely contain lead-based products.