First Lori Yearout, epidemiologist with the Oklahoma State Department of Health revealed bad news: the number of lead poisoned children in state designated Tar Creek zip codes is DOUBLE the percentage of lead poisoned children in the state and even higher in 2015 and 2016. Our kids are still being poisoned. If you have not had your yard tested, do it now, do it for your neighbors' kids and your own. More calls, more funding comes to get more done, call 1-800-522-0206 to have your yard tested. Our kids are lead poisoned TWICE the STATE OF OKLAHOMA's average.
What else can we do? Dr. Emily Moody from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told us the very best thing we can do is wet mop. That would include wet dusting as well. Fine particles in OUR dust can contain lead and other harmful metals and you don't want to scatter them, you want to capture them so they will not be inhaled or land on items that go into your mouth or your child's. Dr. Moody explained no matter our age, we want to limit our exposure to lead, eat healthy foods and get this, lower our stressors.
Back to Ted. Ted Schlueter with the Oklahoma Area Indian Health Service revealed startling news. He had tested wells of tribal members and was shocked to find lead in a private water well 3 times higher than the standard acceptable by EPA for municipal wells. He was able to find funding to connect some homes to rural water but he had found another one and knew all of the tribal wells in the northeast Ottawa County should be tested.
He presented tables, Google maps, addresses, amounts of lead in each well and then showed the Google map of the other tribal homes that still needed to be checked. It got quiet and then the magic of pulling us all together as one happened.
First the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Project Manager spoke up and asked some questions, then Tim Kent with the Quapaw Tribe said a sister county in our Tri-State Mining District had connected ALL private wells in their county to rural water so no one was using a private water well in the Boone aquifer and EPA was able to do that and that there ought to be a way for EPA to do this work for Ottawa County.
Ted had showed the Google map indicating where the household was with the high levels of lead in the well water. LEAD Agency passed on PUR water filters for the homeowner to use in the interim to provide safe drinking water to the household. PUR donated 50 filters this year to help our community.
Water connects us and our hope is that we protect our people by providing good water, but we have to be watchful to protect this drinking water source as we know there are intrusions of bad water to the Roubidoux that still need to be found and corrected.
We connected back to an earlier session on the expansion of poultry farms in northeast Oklahoma, all of which will be pulling massive amounts of water from the Roubidoux, this precious resource, this lake below this region we are counting on to be there as the water resource for our future.
1994 was a pivotal year. President Clinton signed Executive Order requiring fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. Our keynote speaker Charles Lee was a key player in the environmental justice movement and we like to believe our conferences have been aimed at making sure environmental justice was included on our agendas.
In a 1994 letter from Don Acherman to EPA on display in my office he documented his concern that 34% of Indian children were found to be lead poisoned by the Indian Clinic in Miami. This letter caused EPA to respond with follow-up testing random kids proving children in our mining towns and Miami were too. EPA responded targeting high access areas first where children played then began yard remediation that is still in effect now for all of Ottawa County to protect children from lead poisoning. All these years later, IHS got EPA's attention again with shocking numbers that will have to be responded to. Don Acherman and Ted Schlueter worked for the same agency, in the same position doing the same kind of work. Both spoke out seeking to share information to bring awareness to a public health emergency both deserve our gratitude.
If you missed the conference you will be able to see it and Michael Woodruff's skills on LEAD Agency's facebook page.
Respectfully Submitted with hope all are provided Safe Drinking Water,