Posted by: Green Knight | April 9, 2013

Childhood Lead “Poisoning”

Ghods dammit. I’ve argued for YEARS against arbitrarily lowering the level of concern for childhood blood-lead levels from 10 to 5 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL), because we weren’t even close yet to achieving the existing goal of ten, but they went ahead and did it anyway, and CUT FUNDING at the same time. I’m so pissed off I could scream. And this article is misusing the term “poisoning.” That term was reserved for higher levels, but the media is fast and loose with terminology, which I hate. Childhood lead exposure is no joke, and I live in the hottest city in the country for it, but I keep seeing misinformation and bad practices causing trouble.

Also, when government agencies (often arbitrarily) lower a number, people falsely think they’re suddenly “safer.” Ummm, not the case. There has to be enforcement, staff,  and a budget to implement the new standard and make it happen in the real world, and they just CUT the funding to about 7% of what it was to help local health agencies. On paper, it sounds like our kids are 50% safer. In reality, they’re a lot LESS safe.

If a kid 6 or under (some regulations say under 6, but I go with the most stringent, anything under 7) tested at 10 or higher, he or she was considered to have an EBL, or “elevated blood lead” level. We didn’t start using the term “poisoned” until they hit 25, and then we had terms like “mildly poisoned” and progressive levels above that. The level of concern for kids back in the early days of the regulations or “guidelines” was originally 80 μg/L, in the early ’70s. Nowadays, a WORKER on a JOB has to be medically removed if he or she hits 50, or 40 twice in a row.

So the geniuses are once again unnecessarily freaking people out, making an existing situation sound worse than it is, while at the same time making it WORSE than it was, and abrogating their duties by hiding behind the tired old saw, “sorry, no money anymore to throw at the problem.” Nobody ever listens to me. Read this article and weep.

And the cat photo is just to break up the huge tension I’m feeling over this. I’ve been teaching lead hazard abatement since the spring of 1995, and nobody seems to be learning any lessons. Aarrgghh! Here’s a petition to sign about lead-based paint still being sold in Cameroon:

Pb and jelly cat


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