Ill. among leaders in kids with high lead levels

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois officials will use Lead Poisoning Prevention Week next week to raise awareness about a problem that is worse here than in many states.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says it identified 3,300 children with elevated lead levels in their blood last year. That's 1 of the highest numbers in the country.

But the department reports a significant decline in children under age 6 with lead poisoning - from 32% in 1996 to just more than 1% last year.

Federal officials say nearly a quarter-million children nationwide have lead levels high enough to damage their health.

Lead paint and its dust are major sources of poisoning in children. Illinois has an estimated 2 million homes built before 1978 - when lead-based paint was banned.

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