KIds Health

Lead in the Right Direction

The following is the second in our Guest Blog series from a Rhode Island mother of three who is concerned about the environmental health of her area. 

As hard as it was to watch the MisLEAD: America's Secret Epidemic documentary, it is what everyone should see; especially every mother. This documentary is the embodiment of raw truth and was hard for me to watch because of how much I could relate it to my own experience with lead exposure. 

In the film, Tamara (the filmmaker and star), talks about the affects lead has had on her family and how preventable it can/should be. It broke my heart to see her son who was poisoned at a young age talk on film about the struggles he faces as a result of the poisoning. How preventable his struggles have been! 

Then my sadness turned into rage because of the lack of knowledge mothers – and everyone else – have about lead. The smallest amount of lead causes permanent brain damage. Yes! Brain damage, like going head first through a windshield. This example from the film stood out to me. I'll reiterate: lead is so toxic that the damages of its poison are compared to going headfirst through a car windshield.

Why isn't this breaking news? 

Why aren't companies practicing lead-safe procedures? Why are some products (consumer products that often include children's toys) still being made with lead as an ingredient? Why isn't lead testing more important, more urgent? And more importantly why are the dangers of lead not expressed to mothers as a part of "baby-proofing" your home?

When I was pregnant, lead in my home was never brought up. Yes, I had several lab tests done because of the nature of being pregnant but I my opinion I should have been educated on this subject. Along with lactating or child birth classes, mothers (and all parents!) should be offered a class that teaches us how to lead-proof our homes, test our homes, buy lead-free products, etc. And, if our home tests positive, we should be taught ways to make the environment safe for the newborn. 

In reality before this film, before I even heard about Upstream Reports, I wasn't worried about lead. The reason? I wasn't educated. I thought "well my kids aren't eating paint chips, licking the walls, or chewing on window sills" so I was golden. The truth to the matter is, you don't know if you're exposed until you test. Now I've learned that playgrounds could be contaminated, advertised lead-free products use the legal level (which is still unsafe), and daycares could be exposing my child.

After watching this film I was more aware, more educated, and more cautious. I ask the right questions at daycare, observe the inside and outside when my kids play to see if it's safe, I'm more cautious when buying that cutely painted toy at the dollar store, and I test my home. I have tested my home and it has came back with lead positive in the old kitchen sink and the kitchen wall. I knew to test and I took proactive action and covered the wall and use a bucket in sink. I plan on epoxying the sink soon as well. Without this knowledge I wouldn't have known! 

Mothers when this film comes out, watch it please. Be proactive and protect your children from the hidden dangers of lead!

Post by Lauren M. 

Watch the trailer below: 

 

CONTRIBUTE TO THE STORY: 

If you are a parent of young children and have stories about lead or other environmental risk, please email your stories to messelstrom@upstreamresearch.com 

The Mom Test

The following is the first in our Guest Blog series from a Rhode Island mother of three who is concerned about the environmental health of her area. 

Over these past months I have learned about lead. What it is, where to find it, and how toxic it truly is! The fact that I didn't know anything about it before is a travesty. I wonder why it isn't talked about more, why it seems like hidden information. The truth is that, yes, it's 2017 but water still has lead in it, most housing in my city still contains lead in the walls, and products that we buy still use it as an ingredient. Lead is in way more places than we think. 

As most moms have, I have heard these phrases repeatedly: "Don't let your kids chew on windowsills," or " Don't let them lick the walls!" But what the phrases should be are: "Test your water," or "Test the walls for lead exposure!" Why aren't mothers being told this? 

Lead exposure is a serious deal and being a mother of three children the severity is tripled. I have tested my water and I was curious about the walls due to the fact that my apartment was built in the 1920s. 

Last Monday I took it upon my proactive motherly-self to test the walls just to feed my suspicions. After dropping my kiddos off at daycare I drove right to Walmart hoping to find the test swabs to test the paint. Surprisingly, they told me that they did not have them in-store, only online. This news was mind-blowing to me! These swabs should be accessible in every shopping market. So, then I drove to Lowes and, thankfully, they had the swabs. The swabs were $10 for two Q-tip sized swabs. $10! Again I was shocked at the price. For me to test every wall in my apartment I would have to buy more than 10 swabs, totaling $100. Being a single mom $100 is food for the week, clothes for the summer, or gas to bring my kids to daycare. So, I bought a pack of two and swabbed the wall that was most suspicious and, instantly, the swabs was pink – a clear indication of lead. 

How the test works:

Open the swabs up and take them out. The packaging says to crush the back and the front where A and B are printed. After crushing these places you shake the swab and squeeze A as you rub the surface of choice (in my case, the wall pictured below). If lead is present in the surface, the swab will turn a bright pink color and if none is present it will stay orange – the liquid in the test reacting with lead immediately. 

After rubbing the wall and getting a positive read I felt instantly anxious, worried, and helpless. I started planning my move out of my apartment (unrealistic, but a normal holy-shit reaction). If this wall has lead, have my kids been exposed? Should I call for them to be tested for lead poisoning? What do I do now? These questions bombarded my brain and I was worried about my children. After the shock subsided a feeling of strength overwhelmed me. I had to do something. These are my babies and I had to protect them! 

Being proactive is key. The best option for me was to cover the wall, conceal the toxic lead underneath and, soon after, cover it further with wall paper. 

I had a will, so I made a way! 

Post by Lauren M. 

 

CONTRIBUTE TO THE STORY: 

If you are a parent of young children and have stories about lead or other environmental risk, please email your stories to messelstrom@upstreamresearch.com