Dr. Wright has been associated with Ottawa County and the multiple metals our children have been exposed to for now just over twenty years. He was originally at Harvard and now is in a position at Mount Sinae Hospital in New York City.
The gift is a LeadCare II, a portable blood lead analyzer that will analyze a blood sample, a simple drop of blood from a fingerstick providing results in 3 minutes. The Ottawa County Health Department has the exact same instrument, so if you have taken your child 6 years old and younger there to be tested for lead, that would be the first test they would have administered.
We will not duplicate their service, or that of the Northeast Tribal Health System, but to offer blood lead screening to individuals over 6 years of age.
Our plan is to set up at health fairs near the county health department and screen the mothers, the dads or those over 6 years so a family might leave with a fuller picture of what they may need to do overall to make sure everyone in the home is on track to lower those lead levels for the whole family.
We received the instrument months ago but it has taken time for us to gather together a team to train to use the up to date instrument and commit to helping us provide this service at various community events this year.
Then suddenly this week, ONLY this week it all came together. After presenting a session on local metal exposures in Dr. Lesli Deichman's psychology class Monday morning, several students volunteered to assist us. It seems many of her students are on track for nursing as a career, To top off the team we were joined by Karen Fields, who had worked with Dr. Wright and his MATCH Project for nearly a decade during the years the research was ongoing here. Our first outing with our LeadCare II will be at the NEO Health Fair on February 19.
We know that exposure to lead can be harmful to children but also to us in our later lives. While we able we should do everything in our power to do the things that will keep us healthy in our personal lives, but also in our workplaces.
TSET is a trust in Oklahoma established from the tobacco industry settlement to provide funds to improve the health of Oklahomans by reducing our leading causes of preventable death – tobacco use and obesity – to reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease.
TSET funds projects that can improve the health of every Oklahoman. With Pat Hecksher's help as the coordinator for TSET, LEAD Agency was able to improve and update our Worksite Wellness Policy recently, adding additional ways we can encourage better nutrition and more physical activity.
It is a wonder more businesses, non-profit organizations and churches haven't signed up to make more healthier places for people who work or volunteer in those spaces. We all need all the help and guidance we can get to change our ways and our official policies to make work be as healthy as possible.
I have been speaking with former BF Goodrich workers recently and BOY could that plant have done better for the health and safety of their employees! The workers were exposed to heat, unspeakable heat, noxious and toxic odors provided poor air quality, but also deafening noise. Asbestos was everywhere, the "cortisone" of builders and business. It was on the walls, covered the machines that molded the tires, it was thick and thin everywhere. In addition, of course chemicals were part of the tire making process, and the workers' personal cleanup procedures.
We long to have safer work places because they will help us have longer and healthier lives. Businesses did not always have their worker safety rules in place because they were making sure their profits got their upmost attention.
All sorts of industrial processes can get in the way of profits, no wonder some businesses slight their workers' health and safety.
Our BF Goodrich workers, almost to the end have kept quiet for loyalty to the company that helped them be able to feed their children and provide a home of their own. "Goodrich was good for me." I hear it. And business professionals long for the days of those paychecks were spent right downtown.
The company town helped keep the pressure on these hard working men to keep quiet and keep working, even when the air in the tube line was white from the soap stone dust heavy in the air. Soap stone dust would have been loaded with silica which we know can cause silicosis, but also some deposits of soapstone also had asbestos. To me these living legends would have loved to have had a safer work place or the use of respirators to provide some protection. With that they could have worked smarter to live longer.
It seems a coincidence that our BF Goodrich plant that used so many forms of asbestos closed the same year that Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 passed.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim