The New York Times published an expose on lead poisoning earlier this week. Here's a shocker - APPARENTLY, the main cause of lead poisoning in American children is lead house paint (leaded gasoline having been long eliminated as a source of lead in our environment). Isn't it strange that the Times never mentioned the dangers of educational products, toys, t-shirts, ATVs, bikes, pens, rhinestones (oooo, rhinestones, so dangerous!) and the like? What 's wrong with those people?
The article cites an example of the lead poisoning problem:
"But the invisible threat persists in the city’s so-called lead belts — areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island where the rates of children showing elevated levels are routinely the highest in the city. Last summer, E.P.A. officials took hundreds of soil samples near a long-closed lead factory on Staten Island suspected in the chronically higher rates of lead poisoning among children in the North Shore neighborhoods of Port Richmond, Stapleton and St. George. The area was once filled with heavy industry, and lead contamination can be found in parks and industrial sites. Of the children tested from those neighborhoods, about 7 out of 1,000 had elevated lead levels, health department data show, compared with a citywide average of 4.5 out of 1,000.
But when the soil sampling results came in last month, the lead contamination found in six residential blocks was traced to peeling paint, not the plant. . . . Walter Mugdan, the E.P.A.’s regional Superfund director, said that the paint had contaminated backyard soil that could also harbor traces of leaded gasoline."
The NYT article points readers to the Lead home page on the CDC website. If you click forward to the poisoning prevention page, you get the straight scoop from the CDC: "Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children."
[You should also check out the NYT video on the CDC's efforts to eliminate lead poisoning.]
With House hearings on the CPSIA pending this week, this reminder of the real threat to children's health is helpful. As we have been saying for two years, the real health risks in children's products today are lead-in-paint and leaded jewelry. [I am not even so sure about jewelry but accept the concern as legitimate.] There is no hint that the CDC is any way fixated on the same "threats" as your Congress. Interestingly, if the issues spotlighted by the CPSIA were so serious, they might show up as centerpieces in CPSC outreach programs. After all, the CPSIA did NOTHING to remove these supposedly dangerous items from American homes and schools - it merely ended new supply. As the longstanding effort to remove lead house paint makes clear, our government is capable of acting to remove dangerous products or conditions from our living spaces. Congress made no such effort here - and the CDC saw no need either.
Our businesses have been torched by a phobia. It's shameful.
For a lighter news item about lead perils, check out this criminal case from Texas which sent the lead perpetrator to cool his heels in jail. Don't worry, it was just something fishy.