LEAD has been gathering resources to provide bikes to our youngest artists. Some of Terri Riley's early elementary art students will be taking new bikes and helmets home soon thanks to the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, Integris Baptist Regional Health Center and Sachs Associates.
In the future the hope held by some of the most considerate people in the area is that old bikes can be made new again, so even more people are up and riding in our community. Wouldn't that be just the best? Recycling bikes on future rides as the future of our creek improves.
This year's Recycle Tar Creek happens on the same day as the spring clean-up for residents of Ottawa County District #1 according to Commissioner John Clarke. The riders will have an opportunity to meet an elected leader actively involved on Earth Day. Riders will meet site interpreters along their route to learn more history of this area.
People are paying more attention to lead since learning the public drinking water in Flint, Michigan lead poisoned many children. Lead in our area can be found in the older homes on the walls or in the lead pipes, but also in the legacy mine waste used in neighborhoods, alleys and playgrounds.
Recycling the message of lead poisoning got easier this week with an article about Rick Eades, president of the Mississippi Home Inspectors Association, who believes it is overwhelming to think how old lead paint is slowly releasing tiny amounts of lead to the air, food and water, exposing the dwellers and also the neighborhood every time the yard is mowed with lead being spread as far as one mile away. Howard Hu explains, "The real argument is how does society control the totality of known lead exposures and ensure they remain as low as possible." Dr. Hu, formerly with Harvard, has been here and when he speaks about the totality of our exposures I can imagine him remembering the mountains of chat he saw here, knowing they were loaded with lead and other heavy metals.
The National Center for Healthy Housing reported lead-poisoned children have a higher chance of ADHD, antisocial disorder, criminal activity and drug abuse, not to mention decreased IQ, increased blood pressure, anemia, gastrointestinal issues, stunted growth, seizures, coma, and—at very high levels—death.
We rarely had high levels of lead in our area children, but years of chronic low-level exposure. Lead does accumulate in the body, and the principle place where it accumulates is the skeleton.
Dr.Hu said lead in adults contributes to kidney issues, including premature failure, and hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. "A third domain of problems is that lead clearly accelerates declines in mental functioning in adults," Hu said, including loss of "short-term memory and verbal memory and visual-spatial function and coordination."
"It might be just that every time lead goes into your brain, it does a little bit of damage, then it leaves and goes into bone," Hu said. "And that continues, that process continues, over years, and then what do you have left? You have a damaged brain."
After reading Howard's conclusion, my damaged brain believes there is more work to be done. Before losing my coordination, I am getting back on my bike and do that ride next week. And I will be thankful for each person who calls in to get their yard tested for lead and for every child who has their blood lead tested.
As we ride the long route we will be passing chat piles, but we will also be passing remediated yards and whole acreages of chat the Quapaw Tribe and the State with EPA funding have made disappear. It all will be better. I can see it coming as we Recycle Tar Creek.