Board of Health discusses updates to lead plan


Knox County’s Board of Health convened for their regular monthly meeting last night with a hot topic on the agenda.

Public Health Administrator Michele Gabriele’s report lead off by discussing the county’s lead program after an Associated Press report released last week detailed high lead levels in the blood of some county children.

The preliminary steps Gabriele says are to update an existing plan formed in 2005 and to attend a City of Galesburg work session on the April 25.

Gabriele says the department has also made a concentrated effort since concern was raised to educate residents through the media and sending educational materials to pediatrician offices.

She also explained why the way Illinois reimburses health departments for testing children for lead is a costly proposition.

“On average, one lead case from beginning to end–cradle to grave–costs us about $1600 and we get paid about $400 for it,” Gabriele says.

But she says the health department needs to address the lead issue in Knox County children.

Gabriele has pointed out that the statistic the AP cited in a 2014 report that 1 in 20 county children under the age of six have dangerous levels of lead in their blood is misleading due to some of those of children being tested again after knowing they have high levels. Director of Health Protection Sam Jarvis has said the sample size was approximately 836 children. 

However, Gabriele she says that if you just take the children being tested for the first time, Knox County still has 1.5 percent of children at dangerous levels which she says is almost a percentage point above most counties.

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