Is it a plot against you? – Or is ignorance our own worst enemy?
Let’s take a look at a historical usage of lead in society; and some of the effect lead had on society. Perhaps we might gain some insight that we could use today to help us understand some of the consequences of our own actions today.
The ancients regarded lead as the father of all metals, but the deity they associated with the substance was Saturn, the ghoulish titan who devoured his own young. The very word “saturnine,” in its most specific meaning, applies to an individual whose mood has become uniformly gloomy, cynical, and taciturn as the results of lead intoxication.
You will find historically that lead was a key component in face powders, rouges, and mascaras; the pigment in many paints (“crazy as a painter” was an ancient catch phrase rooted in the demented behavior of lead-poisoned painters); used as birth control spermicide; chastity belts; a sweet and sour condiment to season food; a wine preservative; in pewter cups, plates, pitchers, pots and pans, and other household items; the basic component of lead coins in ancient and modern times.
It may be suggested that lead may have been the cause of some dysfunctional and bazaar behavior of many kings and emperors. During the first century A.D., gluttony and drunkenness was practices among the rulers of Rome. The lead concealed in the food and wine they drank probably had a great deal to do with the outbreak of epidemics such as saturnine gout and sterility among aristocratic males and the alarming rate of infertility and stillbirths among aristocratic women.
Modern side effects of lead exposure as reported by the EPA include: learning disabilities, lower I.Q.’s, promote hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, speech delay, hearing loss, slowed or reduced growth, behavioral problems, and violent or aggressive behavior.
Lead poisoning is completely preventable, yet hundreds of children are diagnosed with elevated levels of lead in their blood each year and thousands of children go untested. Because of lead’s effect upon a child’s brain, thousands of Maryland children fail to reach their full potential and communities are denied the benefits of the child’s long-term productivity. Studies have shown children who are lead poisoned are seven times more likely to drop out of school before graduating. Millions of dollars are spent by the tax payers to deal with lost wages, anti-social behaviors and increased special education needs caused by various levels of lead poisoning.
The EPA suggests: Getting your children tested for lead poisoning, especially since symptoms of lead poisoning are not always visible, yet the effects can be very serious. Keep the home, and especially children’s hands, toys, and bottles as clean as possible. Serving low-fat foods to your children since lead poisoning is affected by food with high fat content. Keeping floors, windowsills, and other home surfaces clean, as well as wiping off the dust and soil from shoes before entering to prevent any more lead from entering your home.
A more preemptive approach would be getting your home checked for any lead hazards to prevent future problems of lead poisoning from occurring. In instances of remodeling or renovating, take precaution by having a professional remove any lead-based paint and avoiding the use of belt-sanders, propane torches, dry scrapers, or dry sandpaper on paint that contains lead. If you notice surfaces with peeling or chipping paint, request your landlord fix these problems.
The EPA notes that before it was understood how harmful it could be, lead was commonly used in paint, gasoline, water pipes and many other products. Now days, house paint is almost lead-free, leaded gasoline has been phased out, and household plumbing is no longer made with lead materials.
But long-term exposure to lead can be very harmful to children. Effects can include learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and even brain damage. If caught early, these effects can be limited by reducing exposure to lead or by medical treatment. If you are pregnant, avoid exposing yourself to lead. Lead can pass through your body to your baby. The EPA says the good news is that there are simple things you can do to help protect your family.
1. Get your child tested. Even children who appear healthy may have high levels of lead. You can’t tell if a child has lead poisoning unless you have him or her tested. A blood test takes only ten minutes, and results should be ready within a week. Blood tests are usually recommended for children at ages one and two. To find out where to have your child tested, call your doctor or local health clinic. They can explain what the test results mean, and if more testing will be needed.
2. Keep it clean. Ordinary dust and dirt may contain lead. Children can swallow lead or breathe lead contaminated dust if they play in dust or dirt and then put their fingers or toys in their mouths, or if they eat without washing their hands first. Keep the areas where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible. Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor. Keep extras handy. Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas. Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly. Make sure your children wash their hands before meals, nap time, and bedtime.
3. Reduce the risk from lead paint. Most homes built before 1978 contain leaded paint. This paint could be on window frames, walls, the outside of your house, or other surfaces. Tiny pieces of peeling or chipping paint are dangerous if eaten. Lead paint in good condition is not usually a problem except in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust. (For example, when you open a window, the painted surfaces rub against each other.) Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills, cribs, or playpens. Don’t burn painted wood. It may contain lead.
4. Don’t remove lead paint yourself. Lead dust from repairs or renovations of older buildings can remain in the building long after the work is completed. Hire a person with special training for correcting lead paint problems to remove lead paint from your home, someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Don’t try to remove lead paint yourself.
5. Eat right. A child who gets enough iron and calcium will absorb less lead. Foods rich in iron include eggs, lean red meat, and beans. Dairy products are high in calcium. Don’t store food or liquid in lead crystal glassware or imported or old pottery. If you reuse plastic bags to store or carry food, keep the printing on the outside of the bag.
In addition to the steps parents can take to reduce their children’s exposure to lead, the EPA has taken regulatory steps aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the new rule, beginning in April 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.
Until the new regulations take effect, EPA recommends that anyone performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools follow lead-safe work practices. All contractors should follow these three simple procedures: Contain the work area; minimize dust; and cleanup thoroughly.
Currently, owners of residential rental properties built before 1978 must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.
Sellers of properties built before 1978 must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.
For more information:
Visit www.epa.gov/lead or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (1-800-424-5323)
310,000 children under the age of six. Children under 6
Even low levels of lead poisoning can cause hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, learning disabilities, lowered IQ, speech delay and hearing impairment. High levels of lead can cause severe mental disabilities, convulsions, coma or even death.
Hire a person with special training for correcting lead paint problems to remove lead paint from your home, someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Don’t try to remove lead paint yourself.
If you want more information on making your building or home lead safe contact Joan at Geon’s Lead Safe Company @ 414-419-2536. Keep aware and be prepared is our best defense against extinction.