18 August 2012, 11:50

Lead in homes: silent epidemic

Lead in homes: silent epidemic

Tiny speckles of dust float through the air or fall to the floor in a home, unknowingly containing such a powerful neurotoxin. Lead is an element from the periodic table which can damage one slowly, quietly and without a doubt, and has a powerful effect on each individual’s mind. Lead, a toxic metal, natural resource, and cheap filler known best for its appearance in paint, can wreak havoc on families in the neighborhood.

“Seventy-five percent of new paint still contains high lead in Russia,” said Perry Gottesfeld, president of Occupational Knowledge (OK) International. Ecoaccord.org also states in a report that after having tested colored Russian paint the level of lead in the samples ranged from 3233 to 52,927 parts per million(ppm), indicating a high level of lead. Simultaneously, paint of the same color and same manufacturer, purchased in Kazakhstan, had a lead concentration of 1,936 ppm.

“There is no identifiable “safe” level of lead. Lead exposures often occur with no obvious symptoms and can go unrecognized. However, even at “low” levels of lead exposure, children can suffer stomach aches or become irritable or hyperactive,” said Jay Dempsey health communication specialist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As dangerous as it is, is as popular as it is. Companies in emerging markets and developing countries are selling and using lead in high amounts for bridges, cars and products sold to consumers. Chances are this life altering toxin can be found in many home sweet homes. Before signing a lease on a place to stay or committing to buy, double checking the paint and furniture should be a first.

Even though lead paint for residential use has been banned in the US since 1978, remnants of it can still be found lurking in older homes, whose paint is starting to peel and chip away. Being in the presence of lead can be lethal, and one mother’s moment felt just like this.

“When my kids were poisoned nobody had answers for us,” commented Tamara Rubin, mother, advocate at mychildrenhaveleadpoisoning.com, founder of leadsafeamerica.org, and creator of the film Mislead: America’s Secret Epidemic.

All four of her boys were poisoned with lead, but not from the same source. Starting back in 2005, a contractor came in to paint their home, using an open torch flame to pull off the old paint. The paint contained lead, and A.J. and Avi breathed in the fumes. Their bodies became contaminated because of this careless act of removal.

Rubin said that Avi’s intelligence quota was a 130 however, because of his acute lead poisoning, reading and writing were not an option since he can’t process the written language. Cole, her other son, contracted it from the private school he had been going to. The lead dust was inescapable and perhaps invisible. Charlie also had gotten the same poisoning as his three other brothers did, from an unknown place.

Over 330 thousand children between the ages of 1 and 5 are found with unsafe lead levels in the US alone. Children can be highly affected, along with adults. “It causes long term learning disabilities,” stated Rubin. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this chemical can cause headaches, memory problems, slowed growth in kids, infertility in both sexes, and learning disabilities especially with children who are 6 and younger.

Before any tears drop or panic occurs, there are many actions which can be taken on. “Prevention is key,” said Rubin in a sound voice, “Be aware of your environment and look for it around the places you habitat the most.” Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should take precautions before getting to that point, since lead can effect a new born and mother.

Other initiatives are taking place as well. Test kits for homes are being offered by Rubin’s foundation for free, regardless of where a person lives. As well, an enactment with the United Nations is underway with their Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead program. OK International is also making changes worldwide through education in a variety of countries.

No matter where a person lays their head, or eats their food, they need to realize the bottom line. Lead can be everywhere such as in keys, pottery, crystal wine glasses, toys, homes, and even water.

Through awareness of this silent epidemic, at the end of the day, people have control of what stays and what goes. Speaking up to the government and not buying products with lead in it, are just a few easy steps that can be taken to battle the toxin that may be taking control of people’s homes, but even more so, their health.

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