Psychologist Abraham Maslow was interested in human potential, and how we fulfill that potential. He believed motivation drove us toward unmet needs beginning with basic physiological requirements: air, food, water and shelter.
Imagine a triangle with horizontal stripes, five levels of needs, starting with the bottom layer being those physiological needs. Once we have the basic needs met, Maslow believed we begin to strive for the layers above which would be safety, followed by love and belonging then esteem and ultimately the top layer being "self-actualized."
He described that as "the full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities, people seem to be fulfilling themselves and to be doing the best that they are capable of doing."
My mentor Paula Englander-Golden taught me to believe that everyone is doing the best they can at that moment and as they develop that will change too.
Maslow's theory got me thinking about the connection tenants have with their property managers or landlords, a word that may be going out of style. Tenants are provided shelter, meeting one of their most basic needs. Then the next step in this hierarchy of needs would be to insure the tenant their own safety.
Since we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, and buildings have a unique ability to positively or negatively influence our health so it is important to make sure the indoor environment is a safe place to live and raise children.
Indoor air quality can be influenced by mold, particulate matter and dust from construction or renovation, mold, cleaning supplies, pesticides, or other airborne chemicals and deteriorated lead based paint. For Ottawa County it can be metals like lead from use of chat in the neighborhood, even in residential soil tracked indoors by residents and their pets.
“Pollutants in the air don’t only harm children’s developing lungs – they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures. No society can afford to ignore air pollution.” “We protect our children when we protect the quality of our air. Both are central to our future,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said.
Lead poisoning can cause irreversible damage, including lower IQ and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems. Lead poisoning can be prevented and though cases had dropped here, the numbers of lead poisoned children is rising in Ottawa County. Generally here the exposure to lead is coming from lead paint in older homes or from the soil in their front or back yards. All residential yards in Ottawa County can be checked for lead by calling the DEQ Hotline number 1-800- 522-0206. If high levels are found with permission, they will be dug up, hauled away and replaced with clean soil or gravel for driveways.
Research now shows there is no safe level of lead exposure for infants and young children.
"Even at very low levels, children can have trouble learning and have other problems with their brain function," said Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the Poison Control Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "It robs them of their potential to achieve all they may have otherwise."
And that is what connected Maslow to property managers. What a great opportunity to serve the public by providing shelter for our community members, but also what a great responsibility to make sure that those properties are safe and will protect the potential for all who will reside there.
Doctors and teachers use the term "delayed" to describe children who fail to succeed in school, a word a parent in Philadelphia believed gives parents false hope. "This is not a delay — it's a permanent condition. It's irreversible and parents need to understand that this is permanent."
Housing built before 1978 will probably have been painted with lead paint. If the original windows and doors are still in use, check for lead paint. You can get swabs from Sherman-Williams and do it yourself. Look on your front or back porches for the telltale alligatored paint cracking. Get a copy of the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Rules, contact your property manager and ask for this to be checked, dealt with and you and your family will be protected, your safety ensured, your children's potential protected. All involved will be reaching the upper levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
Lead dust at dangerous levels, invisible to the eye, was lying in wait for its next likely victim, but not anymore, not in your yard, house or apartment.
Anticipating your Potential ~ Rebecca Jim