Examining Lead Exposure in America
Bringing the discussion beyond lead in water
It’s no secret that there is a serious lead problem in America. Flint, Flint, Flint. It is the biggest buzzword in the lead world since 1978. What happened in Michigan was particularly horrible. Not only could it have been prevented, but it happened as a result of negligence. The type of outrage and passion that came as a result is what is truly needed to stir up relevant issues, and shine light on the big picture at hand. “How could someone let this happen?” A common question.
The real question is, how can parents in 2,133,000 homes with a child under 6 years old continue living in a toxic home filled with lead paint and lead in dust?
Lead in water is dangerous, but lead in paint and in dust is exponentially more dangerous.
75 percent of the nation’s housing contains lead based paint. While people continue to live in these environments, health officials are warning that deteriorated lead-based paint in the home, not lead in pipes, is the leading source of lead exposure.
Gabriel Filippelli is one of five researchers who spent nine years studying lead blood levels of more than 367,000 children in Detroit. He writes: “The evidence from the study shows that a mysterious seasonal increase in child blood lead levels observed in urban areas throughout the United States is caused by children inadvertently ingesting or breathing dust contaminated with fine lead particles when they play outside in July, August and September.”
The big issue at play is that people are not informed about how common lead is in our homes, air, and water. While outrage continues for lead in water, people need to focus their attention on other forms of lead as well. Lead in paint is measured in Parts Per Million, while lead in water is measured in Parts Per Billion.
Urban vs. Rural Areas
It has been reported that the risk for lead exposure is higher in urban areas. It is very important to note that this certainly does not mean that it isn’t a problem everywhere. Urban areas have more apartments and houses, older construction, a higher population density, less money for new development, etc
Lead Paint is EVERYWHERE
The principal of LEW Corporation resides in a suburban Northern NJ upper income community. It was recently found during preliminary testing in this area, that 12 out of 58 water outlets indicated elevated lead levels.
Sarah Frostenson at Vox says it best: “The problem of lead exposure among children is not a local Flint story. If you look at public health data, you begin to realize two things. The first is that it’s actually really hard to get good data on which kids do and don’t experience lead exposure, and which parents should worry about the issue. The data that is available shows that lead exposure is a pervasive issue in the United States. In some places outside of Flint, more than half of children test positive for lead poisoning.”
While Flint was an absolutely terrible event for everyone involved, the silver lining is that it has called attention to the bigger issue at hand. Lead is everywhere, in our water, our walls, and our air. This discussion and outrage needs to continue with the same vigor seen with the Flint Water Crisis. From the poorest parts in America to the richest, lead is problem facing humanity. We need to stay informed, inform others, and take a stand to do something about it.
Find out if you have lead in your home
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