Public awareness of lead poisoning went way up after the water crisis in Flint, Mich. That was because the chemical makeup of the water going through the pipes caused a widespread problem in a community of over 100,000 people. Here in Connecticut, the problem is much more isolated.

Lead in children leads to learning difficulties, development delays, nervous system and kidney problems and hearing and comprehension loss. The shocking reality is that despite increased awareness and mandatory screening by health care professionals since 2009, an astounding 60,000 children under age six were reported with lead exposure in Connecticut. African-American and Hispanic children were more likely to be among this group.

“Lead paint in houses built prior to 1978 remains the primary source of lead for young children and the ingestion of lead dust is the primary pathway of exposure,” said Suzanne Blancaflor, the Chief of the Environmental Health Section of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

She testified before members of the General Assembly‘s Children’s Committee and the Public Health Committee Monday.

Pre-1978 structures make up a major portion of the housing stock in most of Connecticut’s cities. The lead dust comes from the lead paint in these structures. Most kids like things that are sweet and lead tastes sweet. The ancient Romans actually used lead to sweeten wine.

Kids are supposed to be tested before age one, and about 97 percent of the kids in the state are getting this first test. But all kids are supposed to have a second lead test by age 2, and only about half of them are getting the second test and that’s a big problem.

“It’s important because children get into different things at different ages. They start moving around more by age two or between one and two. They’re curious about their environment. They look out the window,” said Krista Veneziano of the lead program at the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

And a lead paint window sill in a pre-1978 building can be an easy pathway into a young child.

Like in Flint, another source of lead can be water.

While 99 percent of Connecticut’s public water supply is is considered Triple-A, 17 public water systems do have problems and in some cases it can be in your house.

“If you have brass faucets that were manufactured before the lead ban became implemented in 2014, if you have brass faucets; it has lead in it,” said Lori Mathiew, the Public Health Sector Chief at the Department of Public Health.

For more information, you can visit the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s website on lead poisoning. You can also see DPH’s website on the drinking water in Connecticut, by clicking here.Copyright 2016 WTNH