New Orleans reportedly failed to properly test the city’s water for lead contamination, and did not alert residents of the lapse in testing. According to BuzzFeed News, the city’s pipe records haven’t been updated since the 1990s and the water board failed to test water in lead-piped homes because officials didn’t know where the lead pipes were. Testing water only in homes with lead pipes is reportedly required by federal law. A 2017 report concluded that the board's “incomplete and unreliable information on the locations of lead service lines left it unable to alert citizens who might be at risk of exposure to lead in tap water.” The report was buried, and the city hasn’t done much to fix the issues two years after it was issued.
About 11 percent of New Orleans kids under the age of six showed blood lead concentrations at or over 5 micrograms per deciliter in 2016, which is 2.5 percentage points above the national average. Approximately five percent of kids had blood lead levels at at or over 5 micrograms per deciliter in Flint, Michigan—which had its own water crisis that gained national attention. However, due to the city’s lapse in water testing, there is no way to know if the children had high levels of lead in their blood due to drinking tap water or other sources.