April 22nd, 2010

Today is Earth Day, and I am thinking about the connections between our environment and poverty.

Lead – a heavy metal – was once commonly used in industrial manufacturing and building construction.  We had lead paint, lead pipes, and leaded gasoline.

Gradually, over time, we have banned these uses, but lead remains in our air, water, soil, food and even toys and cosmetics.

Why does this matter?

Children with elevated blood lead levels can lose IQ points that they will never get back.  Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body, and even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems and negatively affect mental and physical development.

Lead paint in homes built before 1978 is the single largest source of lead poisoning, and today the EPA is putting a regulation in effect that requires renovation and remodeling contractors to be certified in techniques for containing lead dust stirred up during work.

I worked on lead paint issues in Los Angeles and learned a great deal about lead safe work practices. They are pretty common sense (no dry sanding, use breathing masks and require workers to cover their clothes so they don’t bring lead dust home to their kids) and not hard to implement.

Also – if you are like me and do most of the painting in your house yourself, check out these resourcesto keep your home safe from lead dust. Our kids’ brains depend on it.

Posted by Kristina Scott