But there’s almost always going to be a comparison involving another number.
Asking different questions about the numbers will lead to different stories; you don’t get a story without asking a question. The Flint water crisis is winding down: the city has been back on Detroit water for over a year, and in early December this year tests showed that nearly all the water supply was back within Federal standards for lead.
In the 1976-1980 round(PDF), nearly 90% of children had blood levels 10 μg/d L, and 10% had levels above 30 μg/d L. You’re going to tell me that the research paper doesn’t make these claims and it’s all the fault of the British media, right? Wait, so if that was true, you’d be able to see it in the national figures. Q:  A: Well, ok, diagnosis bias makes it tricky, but the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is making serious attempts to do international comparisons on all sorts of disease, and they think Finland has higher rates than expected, in contrast to the rest of Scandinavia Q: So sauna isn’t protective?
Abolishing lead in petrol has been a huge success and other restrictions have helped. A: No, the research paper has as one of its Key Points Q: That’s pretty positive. Does Finland have a much lower dementia rate than you’d otherwise expect? A: Well, it’s not hugely, implausibly protective unless there’s some other Finland-specific risk factor that cancels it out there was a story about an unproven cancer treatment that rugby-great Colin Meads was taking.
On the other hand, lead is still one of the great victories over pollution.
In the 2011-12 round of the US health survey NHANES, 95% of children had blood lead levels below 2.9 μg/d L.
The Herald story was pulled, then reappeared midday Wednesday with a link (yay) Embargoes are an increasingly controversial topic in science journalism.