Lead has changed the potential of lots of us. What we might have grown up to be and do is gone, but we are reducing the amounts we are exposed to. Our children will be better for it and their lives improved because of it. That is why EPA is still spending millions of dollars a year in this county, reducing the amount of lead our children will be exposed to in their lives.
But they are not working fast enough. The chat and the yards they are cleaning up have more than lead in them. Our Tar Creek has more than lead in it.
Dig deeper. There is Arsenic. Manganese.
There is cadmium. I snuck in on a zoom mini-conference covering the relationship between cadmium and cardiovascular disease. By clicking the link I was sitting with a hundred health professionals, researchers and heart specialists, many who either treated patients with these conditions or others involved with the important research discoveries discussed that day revealing how the body deals with cadmium.
Our body needs some essential elements to function. We need calcium to build strong bones. But the sly heavy metal elements in our environment mimic what our body needs. For example: If exposed to lead, our body stores it, mistaking it for calcium and stores it in bones and in organs which can be damaged right away. When we don't have enough calcium, the body pulls it out of the bone into blood to circulate to vital organs, and if pregnant, can share lead with the fetus for the baby's bone development. I knew all that. Lead as an element, once in us it can stay and do great harm. That is why it is especially important to prevent lead exposure, so our bodies are not poisoned by it.
But what I learned about cadmium really bothered me. Our exposure to cadmium is relatively new. It was only discovered as part of zinc in the 1880's, and then only began to be put into product use in the 1930's. We need zinc to boost our immune system and metabolism function and help wounds to heal and insures your sense of taste and smell. What else? This conference went deeper with descriptions of how cadmium fools our bodies and mimics another essential element: zinc. These two elements were found together when mined here in the Tri-State District.
I had looked at the ATSDR TOX Profiles years ago, finding the diseases known to be associated with each of the elements we know by living here we are exposed to and had learned that cadmium was linked to heart attacks and stroke. But lead got national attention. It became EPA's only Contaminant of Concern here, so did all of our focus, but our other elements remain concerning. Finally Congress and FDA are only now bringing forward proposed legislation, the Baby Food Safety Act, to cap the presence of inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury in baby food and cereal. So other harmful elements found here may gain their needed attention.
Dianne Le produced an image during the Harvard University School of Design Studio, Tar Creek Remade which depicted children walking beside our Tar Creek and as that water flowed the symbols of these metals of concern, lead, arsenic, cadmium and manganese rested on the ripples( Mn-Cd-Pb-As). These elements float, flowing past us each day, but these metals flow through us as well. They are in Tar Creek's water, end up on soils when she leaves her banks. These elements of concern are in our air, when the dust from chat piles only a few miles away become airborne.
What if the water flowing through Miami no longer harbored the metals that can harm our lives, damage our hearts and kidneys, or become stored in our bones? Why can't we say we want it better?
Who wouldn't want clean air? And clean water.
Could our grandchildren's grandchildren wake to an elemental free water, no longer carrying heavy metals?
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Robert F. Kennedy
Think about the legacy we can leave. Think of those tiny ripples we can create. We can speak for our water, in one voice, we can learn to love our Tar Creek. We can claim her. We can be her Water Protectors, whole families, whole neighborhoods can wear their "My Tar Creek" pins. Banners will go up in yards "hearting" this once disrespected free flowing stream. It is a powerful thought. Each person empowered to change the future, elementally. It is our time.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim