High Levels of Lead Pose Threat for Galveston Kids

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GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Health officials in Galveston say about 20 percent of this city's children test positive for lead poisoning each year.

More than 2,100 kids have been affected in the last 15 years.

City and county officials have known about the problem since 1992 but their attempts to limit lead contamination have apparently not been effective.

The city continues to get a failing grade for lead exposure every year on the Children's Report Card published by the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The main problem is that two-thirds of Galveston's residential buildings were built before the federal government banned lead-based paint.

The walls and woodwork are coated with toxic chemicals that seep into the air and soil when the old paint is removed or begins to peel and flake.

A new study financed by the Kempner Fund and conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine shows that 434 of the 2,171 children poisoned in the last 15 years lived in properties owned by just 12 landlords.