Augustana College Again Tries To Tackle Lead Problem In Scott County

Aug 31, 2017

Credit Caleb / Flickr

Students at Augustana College will once again try to tackle a lead contamination problem in Scott County.

This project is the third annual for the Upper Mississippi Center for Sustainable Communities at Augustana, in partnership this year with Genesis Health System and the Scott County Health Department.  

Lead paint was federally outlawed in 1978, but residents who live in homes built before that year are at risk of lead exposure, which causes developmental issues and other health problems in children, typically when decaying paint chips off of the wall. 

Last year, students identified 40,000 homes in Scott County built before 1978, and concluded that 1,200 of those homes are at a high risk of lead contamination. 

Upper Mississippi for Sustainable Communities Director Michael Reisner will lead a group of over one hundred students to continue to try to figure out which houses need immediate attention, and find the money to fix them.

"Almost all the efforts right now are totally mitigative. They're focused once the child has been poisoned. What Scott County and our partners are trying to do is focus on a preventative approach, and getting the lead out before the child is poisoned."

Each year, about 50 children in Scott County test positive for lead poisoning. 

At low to moderate levels, lead can cause learning, hearing, and behavioral problems in children, along with slower growth, lower IQ, anemia and kidney problems. At higher levels, lead can lead to brain swelling, convulsions and death.