© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
The Midwest Newsroom is a partnership between NPR and member stations to provide investigative journalism and in-depth reporting.

Midwest Newsroom, Missouri Independent hosting community discussion on lead levels in children

Unleaded event panel
The Missouri Independent
The Aug. 30 discussion will feature a panel of experts, including (from left) Ganga Hettiarachchi, Beto Lugo-Martinez and Elizabeth Friedman. The fourth panelist, Amy Roberts is not pictured.

Over the last six months, NPR’s Midwest Newsroom and The Missouri Independent have worked to figure out why children in our region have high levels of lead their blood. A event on Aug. 30 offers members of the public to ask questions and share their concerns.

A study released last year found that children around the Midwest had high levels of lead in their blood.

Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, the data paints a similar picture — children with elevated levels of lead in their blood far above the national average.

Over the last six months, The Missouri Independent and NPR’s Midwest Newsroom worked to figure out why.

By analyzing scientific research, delving into state and local data and interviewing parents, experts and advocates from across the country, a joint investigation aimed at shedding light on a public health disaster that continues to poison children every year.

With the project coming to a close, both news organizations are co-hosting a community discussion on Aug. 30 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Kansas City Kansas Public Library.


Tuesday, Aug. 30
6-7:30 p.m.


Kansas City Kansas Public Library
625 Minnesota Ave.
Kansas City, Kansas 66101

Register for free:

Register here

The event will feature a panel of experts to lay out the facts and take questions about sources of lead all around us and solutions that are available.

Attendance is free, and refreshments will be provided. Those unable to attend in-person can join over Zoom.

Moderated by reporters Samantha Horton and Niara Savage, the discussion will feature:

Elizabeth Friedman, a physician with Children’s Mercy Kansas City and director of the pediatric environmental health specialty unit for Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.

Ganga Hettiarachchi, a professor of soil and environmental chemistry at Kansas State University and one of the world’s leading scientists in the fields of trace metal and nutrient chemistry in soils.

Beto Lugo-Martinez, a community organizer and executive director of CleanAirNow in Kansas City.

Amy Roberts, project manager of the childhood lead poisoning prevention and health homes program for the Kansas City, Missouri, health department.

In addition to the panel discussion, free lead paint testing kits will be made available to the first 15 people who attend in person and will be mailed to the first 10 people who attend virtually. To register to attend, in person or virtually, visit the Kansas City Kansas Public Library website.

Unleaded 2

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.