Lead Safe St. Louis

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis and St. Louis County will be able to increase efforts to reduce the number of children in the region exposed to lead, thanks to grants donated Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The city and county both received 2.5 million dollars from HUD, although $100,000 of the county’s grant is ear-marked for a separate initiative.

According to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the city’s grant will be primarily used to preemptively make 180 rental units safe from lead.

Courtesy Lead Safe America

The city of St. Louis has been working to reduce lead poisoning since the health department introduced a lead program in the 1940s. Since that time great strides have been made. But the danger of exposure to lead still exists in the city, and screenings reveal more than a thousand cases of elevated blood lead levels each year.

St. Louis is making great strides in its attack on childhood lead poisoning, according to statistics released Friday by the city's Health Department.

The report said the level of lead poisoning in children reached an all-time low of 3.2 percent in 2009. That represents an 80 percent drop in the number of children with elevated lead levels since 2001. At that time, the rate was 16.2 percent, health officials said.