Your house may not be on fire right now like Australia is burning, but your house may have other issues affecting the safety of your children.
We have known for a long time that lead can be harmful to your health and harms children quicker, because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. They are smaller and closer to the source and for our homes that would be the floor.
Starting this week, EPA has changed the amount of dust on floors it takes to be dangerous. The standard used to be 40 micrograms of lead per square foot (µg/ft2) but it is now down to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 on window sills. The concern has been focused on housing built before 1978 and might have lead based paint, but also includes child care facilities and hospitals across the country. But our dust might be from our environment, too.
What does that mean? This information should convince parents to take measures to reduce risks in their homes.
What are we doing? If you currently have a lead poisoned child in your home, LEAD Agency would like to give you a dust mat for the door you go in and out of. What can you do? You could ask EPA why in the latest Press Release on these standards, bare soil in children's play areas should not be higher than 400 parts per million (ppm) of lead, yet the cleanup level for Ottawa County is 500 parts per million (ppm).
You could get your child's blood checked for lead, sign up to get your yard tested by DEQ (for free) and if contaminated with lead, get it removed and replaced (for free).
What can we do? What can one person do? Use door mats, take your shoes off when you come into your house, or even leave them on the front porch. Wet dust and mop. We are encouraging everyone to use door mats to help keep lead out of your house so it will stay out of you and your children. Think your house is clean? watch the sunlight coming in your window or turn on a flashlight at night to see "ten thousand particles, turning softly, twinkling” as Anthony Doerr, described dust.
You can learn to speak up, you can be brave, even courageous. That is what Representative Adam Schiff asked US Senators to do, have courage to think for yourself, as it pertained to the trial occurring in the Capitol this week.
You can be brave and ask your landlords if your home or apartment is lead safe, especially now that we know the dust level for lead has been reduced so very low. It changed slowly but the change is official now, as a measure that will be more protective of children. Especially children who are crawling all over their floors.
'It only takes a little lead to contaminate a room.
For example, imagine each granule of sweetener in a sweetener package represents a tiny piece of lead. If only two of these 'lead' granules were placed in a one square-foot area of floor, enough lead would be present to exceed the EPA guidance for lead-contaminated dust.' EPA Lead Sampling Technician Training Course Trainer Manual pp. 3-2
Surely you remember Justin Brown? He sent a couple of journal articles recently showing how of course lead can affect I.Q., we have known that, but also it can make our brains actually smaller and certain areas of lead poisoned children's brains we need for successes in life can be affected, they found, especially for the poor, changing the futures of children and our society.
As poet Gabriel Gadfly has said, “Sometimes I grow so tired of speaking my emotions to you. I open my mouth and dust spills out instead of feelings.”
I guess you can say sometimes I talk dirty. Dust is a dirty deal and a dangerous one for the little ones. We are in a superfund site where the contaminant of concern is lead. Whether you live in a home built before 1978, or have one in your neighborhood, you and your neighbors have yards that may have lead in the soil to be tracked into your home. But Ami Zota's study of air quality found lead in the air throughout our area, perhaps not much on a single day, but it accumulates and it doesn't take much to harm our children.
Your house may not be on fire, but it's a good time to begin doing what you can there and then work outward.
Respectfully submitted ~ Rebecca Jim