Capital Clicks

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

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

By Staff Reports, Missouri Independent

A joint investigation by The Missouri Independent and the Midwest Newsroom.

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, 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 called “Unleaded” aimed to shed light on a public health disaster that continues to poison children every year. Iowa Capital Dispatch contributed to some of the reports and has published the series.

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. Those of us here in Iowa can join virtually.


Tuesday, Aug. 30

6-7:30 p.m.


Kansas City Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, Kansas 66101


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.

About this story

This story was originally published by the Missouri Independent, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jason Hancock for questions: [email protected]. Follow Missouri Independent on Facebook and Twitter.

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