a handle with chipped paint

Almost 3,000 communities across the nation have higher lead poisoning rates than Flint, Michigan, according to a recent Reuters investigation. Among these lead hotspots is Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, where more than seven percent of children have unhealthy blood lead levels caused by exposure to contaminated paint and soil. Flint, Michigan gained worldwide attention in 2015 when city officials told residents to stop using tap water because of lead contamination. In this hour we discuss the Reuters investigation, the dangers posed by lead, who’s most at risk, and how to prevent harmful exposure.

More Information:

Lead Exposure Rates in Oakland’s Fruitvale Neighborhood Exceed Those in Flint 4 January,2017Mina Kim

Michael Pell, data journalist, Reuters
Timur Durrani, principal investigator and co-director of the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, UCSF
Julie Kurko, health services manager, Alameda County Healthy Homes Department
David Rosner, professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; co-author, "Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children"


    So what else is new, well while the U S today is richer than ever, near all the wealth is shifted to the few hands on the top,Wall Street Billionaires, treasury of multinational corporations, and corrupt greedy bankers, and what worse is that near all of them never pay their share of taxes, Trump is perfect example, as another example we have Billionaires like Buffet who earned over 10 billion dollars within the last 12 month at the same time over one hundred million Americans having real hard time to make enough money to support their families,as well as the rampant homelessness and poverty across the land, with all of that our highways and roads are crumpling,our schools becoming beyond our means, our health care becoming beyond many of us, our water is being poisoned, our education system is failing in such way where today the U S is ranked number 38 in science and math behind other countries……I HATE TO SAY IT, BUT THE US IS NEAR BECOMING A FAILED COUNTRY….I am very sad.


    The whole demise of the demise of the U S economy and the demise of what once was the greatest middle class bin the World, was initiated by the advent of Ronald Reagan and his crowd of Neoliberals bogus economist Milton Friedman, Erick Greenspan, David Ruben, Larry Summers, and several others who sold Reagan on their voodoo economics, Reaganomics and Trickle down nonsense, they shutdown our factories, destroyed unions, exported our jobs, and destroyed the concept,of fair taxation all amounted to enrich their Wall Street cohorts and goons while they caused the demise of the middle class and send many Americans to the poorhouse and homelessness….They did all of that by changing the U S economy from worker and consumer based to share holder economy and with America and Americans where robed of their assets, homes, jobs, free education and healthcare, and so on.


    If the trillions of dollars that were given to corrupt and bankrupt Wall Street in 2008 and 2009 by GW Bush and Barack Obama was instead invested in the American society, the U S would have been far better off and we would still have the great American middle class with free education, healthcare, affordable housing, etc.

    • Kevin Skipper

      What topic are you commenting on?

  • Kevin Skipper

    If lead is your problem, gentrification is your cure. Recent media studies show that the easiest way to displace minority groups is to declare their neighborhoods suddenly and surprisingly toxic.
    Pathetic as it is simple minded. Honestly, it makes the Ghost Ship Debacle’s “Scare-The-Daylights-Outta-Property-Owners-and-Tenants” approach sound downright novel.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Hey Mina. Sounds to me like this is nothing more than another BS health scare. Lead levels higher than Flint and it’s not a crisis? Is that because this is just a routine exercise in problematizing a region currently associated with minorities and the economically less advantaged. Seems like yet another way to scare people into behaviors and perceptions that support, promote it allow GENTRIFICATION.

  • Kevin Skipper

    Basically, these “health experts” are a bunch of corporate developer quacks spouting a false disease story with less credibility and more subtle racism than ZIKA.

    • Dear, I see that you’ve a load of crap.

      But alas, there’s tons of evidence that lead of toxic. It always has been. Some forms are worse than others: Fuel lead and lead fumes are worse than paint and soil lead; lead in water is worse than soil lead.

      Why? Because different parts are differently mobile, differently bioaccumulative.

      Why do we know lead is toxic? We can expose animals, humans to the fumes and find toxic responses. And as we’ve studied lower and lower doses, we’ve never found a lower bound it has no effect.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Well said. We all have our load to dump, Crissa. The question is, where do we dump it? Seems that minority neighborhoods have functioned as both toilet, and repository for loosely constructed social scapegoating and political half-stepping.
        Most of us are aware that lead is toxic. No surprise there. At the same time, why don’t we question these stories that just HAPPEN to take place in the areas that are known to lay in the sights of eager developers and gentrifiers?
        I’m dumping that question, steaming and stinking, right into your and the show’s collective lap.

  • Robert Thomas

    Does any one recall the business one once encountered, driving up and down San Leandro Street in the 1960s and 1970s? In those days it was motor vehicle body shop after paint store after paint warehouse after paint wholesaler after marine paint outlet after body shop… It was where my father went to buy red lead and white lead.

    I last visited the Dutch Boy buildings at 47th thirty years ago and was astonished to see that not only were people “repurposing” it already as “art space”, people were living there. I can’t believe that the whole neighborhood is not choked with lead dust and lead salts. How can this be a surprise? Just walking through the Dutch Boy would likely represent a lifetime maximum lead load. I would be wary of walking past it on the sidewalk. The only thing more dangerous than the lead there, is the complex’s tinder-box flammability.

    • Kevin Skipper

      While your anecdotes compelling, I would have trouble drawings conclusive causal line between a paint store or warehouse and household lead levels. At the same time, something tells me that the first few guests’ input lacks even your level of rational historical analysis. Having trouble believing this isn’t connected to the same story factory as the Ghost Ship Debacle.

    • Robert Thomas


      Raising a FAMILY??

      At the Dutch Boy???

    • Kevin Skipper

      Then again, the caller just mentioned a lead-contaminated baby. Ironically though, she mentions that the baby is now perfectly healthy…

  • Kevin Skipper

    can’t believe no one else is commenting on this as it is a perfect exile of a load of …. I’m going to check on the Facebook page….

  • Love2Ride2

    Wonderful show; thank you once again Forum folks!

    I find problematic the fact that the chemical industry is absent during these lead discussions. Where are they? Why aren’t they held accountable for covering our properties with this toxin?

    Why are property owners held holding the bag? THEY didn’t manufacture and profit from the paint. I’ve fixed a lot of lead paint issues and I’ve not once been reimbursed for this costly work by the paint corporations.

    Once again, the responsible parties get to skate and we’re left stuck with the bill – and poisoning!

    • Kevin Skipper

      These stories don’t attempt to provide rational investigations. You heard the host. She barely even questioned the punditry, just let them drone on and on with basically unsubstantiated hearsay.
      It’s the same as the Ghost Ship. Spin up a fear story, set it in an area that certain citizens (like SARS Wash) would rather forget about or pave over, incite polarization and confusion and there you have it, a ready made pretext for displacement, dispossession and gentrification.

      Landlords are present so we use them as scapegoats. We let businesses get away with everything, especially toxifying minority neighborhoods and children so there’s really no pretext to hold them liable. Besides, it’s hard to displace people if you’re busy investigating actual culprits….

  • Robert Thomas

    Aging lead-based house paint and lead from other sources poses a greater risk to children across the nation than does the water in Flint?

    No, duh.

    Lead paint on dilapidated buildings and lead from fuel tanks and so forth raised great alarm forty years ago. There were television exposés and everything. ‘Member?

    Scraping off peeling and chipping surfaces, bagging it up and overpainting the scraped surfaces undoubtedly improved the safety of dwellings, but this could only be maintained with continued good maintenance.

    In the meanwhile, the level of lead exposure considered safe has been prudently reduced.

    It’s certainly been amusing to watch the Republicans in Lansing be raked over the coals after their flub, trying to operate the Flint water utility.

    But the fact is, lead in the Flint water was too high before Lansing ever touched it. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department source Flint had been previously using was delivering them lead at as high a concentration as 20ppb, 33% higher than the modern recommended maximum. Thirty-six months of an increase of dissolved lead from 20ppb to 70ppb, while alarming, avoidable and incompetent, has not likely resulted in significant risk to the children of Flint. The chances are that in Flint, also, the difference in lead exposure that residents will present from dwelling to dwelling due to weathered and exposed paint will likely <emSWAMP the exposure due to water – which will appear as statistical noise.

    • Kevin Skipper

      Very nice. I would add to that the occurrence of poorly lined or badly maintained lead pipes from previous eras of construction. Again, old news so why is this a story TODAY?

  • Sar Wash

    I hate to sound cynical or elitist but, frankly, what would one expect as this is Oakland?. Most of us in the City would never set foot in Oakland except when driving through on the way out of town. Oakland exists as a place for cheap housing, industry, and shipping. I would not expect the environment or health to be at the standards of other more productive and valuable areas.

    • Kevin Skipper

      No worries, SARS Wash. You don’t sound elitist. You just come off as an out-of-touch as*hole who’s had yet to familiarize himself with the more subtle offerings of the greater Bay Area. Pack up your Kate Spade duffel and hightail it back to REDWOOD CITY where you’re actually from (I confirmed it with an FBI buddy of mine) and go reflect on the true meaning of manners.

      • De Blo

        Why the hate on the Peninsula?

        • Kevin Skipper

          No hate here. As for justified contempt….

          I love the Peninsula. It’s just the smug man-boys that it produces that tend to bother me. Even from a single comment, your misplaced superiority complex comes across as thick and pungent as a decaying fish carcass. Funny when I come visit Marin, you tend to be the same guys afraid to make eye contact.

          Anyway, whats your contribution here? Do you have something to add on any intellectual level or is this what where doing?….

        • Kevin Skipper

          my apologies De Blo, the last part of my previous comment was not directed towards you. Thought I was still on Sar’s thread.

      • Sar Wash

        I am a native of the Bayview. Clearly you did not understand the City all. Let me know if you have any questions about San Francisco and life here.

        • Kevin Skipper

          I don’t. My family is from the Fillmore, I grew up going to summer school in the Presidio. Since 2005 or so, there’s been nothing much to do around the city except spend too much money, strain one’s eyes looking for (healthy) Black faces and marvel at the flagrant abandon with which heroin is injected into urban economies and veins.

          Is there a story you’d like to tell or are we going to discuss what you don’t know about Oakland and Bay Area politics?

  • Lead is bad – but there’s no reason to panic over it.

    We can mitigate it if we work together. Traps like the pipes in Flint, MI exist everywhere – but we can mitigate them without stirring it up like they did in Flint.

    And no matter what we’ve done: Even in Flint, it never was as bad in the last two years as it was twenty years ago. We’ve come a long way, and should not forget that.


Mina Kim

Mina Kim is KQED News’ evening anchor and the Friday host of Forum. She reports on a wide range of issues affecting the Bay Area and interviews newsmakers, local leaders and innovators.

Mina started her career in public radio at KQED as an intern with Pacific Time. When the station began expanding its local news coverage in 2010, she became a general assignment reporter, then health reporter for The California Report. Mina’s award-winning stories have included on-the-scene reporting of the 2014 Napa earthquake and a series on gun violence in Oakland.

Her work has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.

Mina grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Oak Park, CA. She lives in Napa.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor