Unleaded is a joint investigation by The Missouri Independent and NPR's Midwest Newsroom exploring the issue of high levels of lead in children in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

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EPA estimates more than 200,000 lead pipes remain in Missouri

BY: - April 6, 2023

More than 200,000 lead service pipes carry drinking water to Missouri families, according to a new estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency.  New lead water pipes have been banned for more than 30 years. But the EPA estimates that 9.2 million American households still get their water through aging lead pipes.  Just over 2% of […]

Missouri bill eliminates mandatory childhood lead testing in hopes of increasing access

BY: - March 1, 2023

Doctors would no longer be required to test young children living in high-risk areas for lead poisoning under a Missouri House bill heard in committee Tuesday. But supporters of the bill, including the Missouri chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, say the legislation would increase access to lead testing and education and streamline requirements […]

White House launches new push to help states remove lead pipes that carry drinking water

BY: - January 30, 2023

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday announced plans to speed up the use of infrastructure law funds to replace lead pipes in underserved communities, with a focus on Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin beginning this year. The four states, each led by Democratic governors, will be part of what’s called the Lead Service […]

Kids in the Midwest will get more blood screenings under EPA plan to deal with lead threat

BY: - October 28, 2022

A study shows about half of children in the United States have detectable levels of lead in their blood, despite federal regulations that ban or restrict its use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted a new strategy to reduce exposure, particularly in low-income and communities of color that are disproportionately affected. On Thursday, the EPA […]

Fight over silica mine rekindles fears about Missouri’s Old Lead Belt 

BY: - August 29, 2022

Pickle Creek runs two miles through Ste. Genevieve County’s sandstone valleys. It carries some of Missouri’s cleanest water, but residents worry that could change if NexGen Silica gets full approval to mine sandstone on a 249-acre plot of land along nearby Highway 32. They don’t have to look very far to see the outcome they […]

Missouri Independent, Midwest Newsroom co-hosting community discussion on lead

BY: - August 17, 2022

A study released last year found that more than 80% of Missouri children had some level of lead in their blood.  Across the Midwest, in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, the data painted a similar picture — children with elevated levels of lead in their blood far above the national average.  Over the last six months, […]

Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids touts federal funds for lead pipe replacement

BY: - August 11, 2022

The locations of lead service lines seem like the sort of thing someone would know, Congresswoman Sharice Davids said Thursday.  But as cities and counties across the U.S. grew, water utilities didn’t keep track of them all.  Now, they’re finally required to find them. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s updated lead and copper rule requires […]

Kansas, Nebraska researchers use plants to limit exposure to toxic lead in soil

BY: - August 8, 2022

In parts of the Midwest where lead mining and smelting lasted for over a century, communities are still dealing with toxic waste left behind by the industry. Lead, a dangerous neurotoxin, persists in the environment, including in water and soil, where it can pose a threat to the health of people living nearby. The risk […]

Items with lead are easy to find at antique shops, discount stores. They’re also toxic 

BY: and - July 25, 2022

A vintage military-style trunk she bought at an eastern Michigan flea market when she was a teenager became a staple of Jennifer Poupard’s life. Poupard, now 37, originally bought it to store her CDs. Over the years the trunk — styled with leather handles and metal buckles — served as a container for shoes, a […]

Missouri governor signs bill requiring schools test, filter water for lead

BY: - July 1, 2022

Efforts to eliminate lead in school drinking water got a huge boost on Friday, as Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed off on legislation requiring testing and also gave his approval to $27 million in federal funds to help schools install filters. The new law, which goes into effect Aug. 28, requires schools to test their […]

‘Time bomb’ lead pipes set to be removed. But first water utilities have to find them

BY: - June 20, 2022

TRENTON, Mo. — It took three years for officials to notice lead was seeping into the city’s drinking water.  Missouri regulators had given the green light in 2014 for Trenton to start adding monochloramine to its drinking water to disinfect it without the harmful byproducts of chlorine.  But by 2017, the city noticed something alarming.  […]

Midwest states vary in how they handle risk of lead in venison donated to food banks

BY: and - June 6, 2022

HIAWATHA, Iowa – A walk-in freezer about two stories high sits in one corner of a warehouse owned by a food bank called Hawkeye Area Community Action Program Inc.   Chris Ackman, the food bank’s communication manager, points to the shelving racks where any donated venison the organization receives is typically stored. Known as the Help […]