Vox - The problem of lead exposure among children is not a local Flint story. If you look at public health data, you begin to realize two things. The first is that it's actually really hard to get good data on which kids do and don't experience lead exposure, and which parents should worry about the issue.
Second: The data that is available shows that lead exposure is a pervasive issue in the United States. In some places outside of Flint, more than half of children test positive for lead poisoning.
Houston County, Alabama, is, in a lot of ways, an unremarkable place. It has just over 100,000 residents and sits in the southeast corner of the state, bordering Florida and Georgia. Median household income there is about $40,000, slightly lower than average for the state.
But there is one way Houston County does stand out: In 2014, it reported the highest rate of lead poisoning in the nation of any counties that sent data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Houston County tested 12 children for lead poisoning in 2014, which it defines as kids who have more than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Seven of those tests came back positive.
Nine counties nationwide told the CDC that 10 percent or more of their lead poisoning tests came back positive. Four of them are in Louisiana, two in Alabama, and the rest scattered across West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Oklahoma.
These are places that have told the federal government they actually have higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint, where officials say the number hovers around 4 percent. But these aren't places we talk about that much.