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Making a Difference
Making a Difference at the Tar Creek Superfund Site: Community Efforts to Reduce Risk is a book that we hope will inspire other communities facing environmental injustices. It comes with a DVD featuring a new film Progress at Tar Creek and two films of youth efforts through service learning. The first printing was made possible through a grant from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences.  

Thank you for sharing our vision to make a difference. There is still more to be done.  LEAD Agency will accept donations to reproduce additonal copies and to allow for postage.

LEAD Agency, Inc.,19257 South 4403 Drive, Vinita, OK 74301






Mine tailings containing lead and other toxic heavy metals surround the city of Picher, OK. L.E.A.D. Agency is actively pushing for a quick solution to this health and environmental hazard.

People can get lead in their bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust.

Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.

Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.

There are about 600,000 toxic waste sites across the country.

One out of four people in America lives within four miles of a Superfund site.

Eighty-five percent of all Superfund sites have contaminated groundwater.

In the U.S., about 900,000 children ages 1 to 5 have a blood-lead level above the level of concern.

Lead causes learning and behavioral problems.

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Environmental toxicants are a growing cause of preventable illness in children.

Children's smaller body size and developing systems place them at greater health risk than adults.

Children's activities put them at higher risk of exposure to hazardous substances that might be in water or soil.

Because they are smaller, children receive higher doses of toxicants per pound of body weight.

Pound for pound, children drink more water, eat more food, and breathe more air than adults do.

Oklahoma has 12 distinct ecosystems - including mesas, sand dunes, wetlands, mountains, and tall grass prairie - second only to Texas, which has 13.

Roughly 4% of all lead produced in the US - about 80,000 tons a year - becomes bullets and shot. -Los Angeles Times

Lead is largely inert, but in the body it can lead to learning impairments and neurological damage. -Los Angeles Times

When exposed to acidic water or soil, bullets and shot dissolve and can enter soil and reach groundwater. -Los Angles Times


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Click here to visit the website for Harvard Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Click here to learn about the Community Outreach and Translation Core (COTC) of the Harvard Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research

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Shooting ranges should not be located near wetlands frequented by birds, and soil should be monitored to ensure it's not too acidic. -Rick Patterson

In 200 BC the Greek physician Dioscorides observed that "lead makes the mind give way." -Karin Koller and Terry Brown

Many scientists now believe that even low levels of lead that are under the government's official safety threshold can significantly reduce IQ in children.
-Joan Lowy

Spread across the population, low level lead exposures may be depressing the intelligence of society at large. -Joan Lowy 2004

Lead's toxic legacy over the past century rivals that of tobacco or asbestos and continues today. "Deceit and Denial" - David Rosner

It is horrifying that children continue to be poisoned by it (lead).
“Deceit and Denial” - David Rosner

To the human body, lead looks almost identical to calcium. Our body systems see lead,
mistake it for calcium, and place it into pathways where calcium belongs.

Lead is called a xenobiotic - a foreign substance with no useful role in human physiology, toxic even in minute quantities.

Lead belongs to a class of compounds known as heavy metals. These include about 40 elements occurring naturally in the Earth’s crust.

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The lead equivalent in size to one granule of sugar a day is enough to drive a child's blood lead level to over 30 micrograms.

Scientists believe that lead and other environmental toxins, like mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), interfere with brain growth.

Once the damage takes place, it's permanent. Taking lead out of a child's environment can lower blood lead levels and reduce the risk of further
harm, but it cannot reverse the harm that has already taken place.

1888 - The Eagle-Picher Mining Company is organized.  It dominates a 2,000 square mile area of lead mining in southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma.

1947 - The last year Sherwin-Williams produces and sells white lead.  Glidden
continues until 1957.  National Lead Company continues until the 1960s.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission prohibits the use of all lead paint after February 27, 1978.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly three quarters of the homes in the U.S. built before 1980 contain some lead paint.

1991 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls lead poisoning the
“most common and societally devastating environmental disease of young children.”

A 1995 article in the Atlantic Monthly quotes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - lead poisoning continues to be the No. 1 “environmental disease of children, affecting at least ten percent of all preschoolers.”

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CDC, HUD and EPA set a national goal to eliminate childhood lead poisoning as a public health problem by 2010.

Childhood lead poisoning can cause serious health problems ranging from poor learning in school to irreversible brain damage.

Once ingested, lead inhibits a child's ability to absorb iron, one of the basic building blocks of brain, nerve and bone development.

Lead Poisoning is a condition caused by swallowing or inhaling lead. Even small amounts of lead can be harmful.

It is easier to prevent lead poisoning than to treat it. Because the symptoms aren't obvious, it is important to get your child tested and know how to lower your child's risks. Do this even if your child seems healthy.

The level of lead in your child's blood can be measured. Early detection means early intervention so less damage occurs.

Once lead gets in the body, it enters the bloodstream and soft body tissues (such as the kidney, liver, and brain). From there it goes to hard body tissues such as bone and teeth. Lead can be stored in hard body tissues for years.

Lead poisoning can affect an unborn child or a breast-feeding infant through the mother’s milk. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid exposure to lead.

Young children aged 6 months to 6 years are at greatest risk of being exposed to lead because they often put things in their mouths.

Uncontrolled toxic chemicals and wastes have reached crisis proportions. "Toxics" are perhaps our nation’s Number 1 hidden health problem.

A probable carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, cadmium accumulates in the body and
is particularly harmful to the kidney and liver, and can cause bones to become fragile.

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The concern with children is that they ingest more toxic chemicals in what they breathe
and eat per kilogram of body weight than an adult does and because they’re growing
rapidly, these chemicals have a stronger opportunity to affect their growth.
-Health Canada’s Total Diet Study

EPA reports that a predatory fish can have more than 1 million times the mercury found in the surrounding water.

Mercury is highly toxic. One study found that 1/70 of a teaspoon of pure mercury is enough to contaminate a 25-acre lake.

Children can suffer from lead poisoning if you bring lead home on your work clothes or shoes.

Young children swallow dust when they put their hands and toys in their mouths. If that dust has any lead in it, the child can be harmed.

People of any age can be adversely affected by lead exposure, but young children are especially vulnerable, because their brains are still developing.

Lead is a toxin that builds up in the body when it is ingested.

Occupational and take-home lead poisoning remain important public health problems.

Invisible toxins may be carried home to household members by inadequately protected
workers on their clothes, shoes, or bodies, called "take-home exposure."

Lead is used in more than 100 industries.

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Lead dust carried from work settles on surfaces in the vehicle and home where it can be ingested or inhaled by young children with normal mouthing behavior and by household members handling workers’ clothing.

Children of lead-exposed workers have disproportionately high BLLs when compared to other children.

Nearly 50,000 families have children under age 6 living with household members occupationally exposed to lead.

Reports of take-home lead exposure include work in mining, automotive radiator repair, battery reclamation, construction, and antique furniture refinishing.
-Clinical Pediatrics, Nov/Dec 2004 p. 845

Lead is a potent poison that affects multiple body systems.
-Clinical Pediatrics, Nov/Dec 2004 p. 845

If only half the 25.5 million tons of durable goods now discarded were reused, more than 110,000 new jobs could be created. -Brend Platt, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

100% of the people recently tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control had
pesticides and pesticide breakdown products in their bodies--100%!
-Pesticide Action Network

Once ingested, lead inhibits a child’s ability to absorb iron, one of the basic building blocks of brain, nerve and bone development.

Lead also stunts a broad range of chemical transmitters that affect hearing, sight and perception.

Long-term exposure to lead can cause lifelong deficits.

Scientific evidence has documented that environmental lead causes academic failure.

As long as society allows environmental lead to poison children, those children will fail in school, engage in violence and drug use, and disrupt the education of other students.



Read the new documentary film,
“Tar Creek,” by Vinita native

Matt Myers that premiered 8-13-09.
The film was featured during the
annual Tar Creek Conference and
was shown Sept. 23 at the
Coleman Theatre Beautiful
in Miami, OK.













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