Category Archives: Lead

Information and articles concerning lead testing

HUD gives $101M to communities for lead paint, home hazard removal

By Trey Garrison, http://www.housingwire.com/

paintbrushesThe U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded over $101 million to 32 city, county and state governments.

The grant funding announced will reduce the number of lead-poisoned children and protect families by targeting health hazards in over 6,000 low-income homes with significant lead and/or other home health and safety hazards.

Earlier this week in Baltimore, Maryland, HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced the funding during a news conference with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as part of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Back to School event, promoting healthier housing to improve school outcomes.

The City of Baltimore is one of the grantees.

HUD’s Lead Hazard Control grant programs has a demonstrated history of success, filling critical needs in urban communities where no other resources exist to address substandard housing that threatens the health of the most vulnerable residents.

“Every family deserves to live in a safe and healthy home where they can see their children thrive and excel,” said Castro. “Communities will use these grants to help eliminate home-related hazards in neighborhoods across the country. A healthy home is vital to the American Dream.” Read more

Lead-poisoning settlement deals draw scrutiny, calls for reform

By Timothy B. Wheeler and John Fritze, http://www.baltimoresun.com/

Maryland lawmakers vowed Thursday to investigate and clamp down on companies that “buy” lawsuit settlements after learning that hundreds of lead-poisoning victims in Baltimore had signed away their court-approved rights to long-term financial support in return for quick cash worth only a fraction of what they were due.

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said his office would work to strengthen Maryland’s law regulating purchases of so-called “structured settlements” when the General Assemblymeets in January. But he also pledged to investigate the companies involved and go after them if his staff determines they broke the law as it stands now.

“We want to be able to take action to protect people from this kind of scam and see if we can help the folks that have already been victimized,” Frosh said.

State legislators and members of Maryland’s congressional delegation joined in expressing dismay and pledging change in reaction to a Washington Post report this week on companies that struck deals with lead-poisoning victims to swap guaranteed regular payments over years for much smaller one-time payouts.

One lead-poisoning victim has filed a lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court saying she had been misled into agreeing to such a deal.

Baltimore lawyer Saul Kerpelman said he brought the case because he considers such settlement transfers “obscene.” Kerpelman, who’s represented thousands of families in lead-poisoning lawsuits, said the companies are undoing financial arrangements specifically crafted to give victims a long-term stream of income, rather than a big one-time payout. Read more

State fails to meet guidelines on lead in homes

By David Abel, http://www.bostonglobe.com

leadinhomesShortly after Jahnyi O’Neal’s first birthday, a routine blood test revealed an elevated level of lead — nearly double the amount that federal health officials say can harm children.

But his doctors weren’t required to notify state authorities or discuss the potential harms with his family, because Massachusetts standards allow a much higher level of lead in the blood before triggering state intervention.

Within a year, while his family remained unaware that the boy was in danger, Jahnyi’s blood lead level tripled, finally reaching a threshold that mandated a home inspection and an expensive deleading of the boy’s century-old Dorchester home.

“He could have permanent brain damage. We had no idea,” said Lenora O’Neal, his great-grandmother, who owns the seven-bedroom home in the Grove Hall neighborhood.

Three years after federal health officials cut by half the amount of lead in a child’s blood that they said warrants medical attention, Massachusetts has yet to tighten its standards.

As a result, thousands of children in the state may be at greater risk of lead poisoning, which can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and in the worst cases, even death, public health advocates and lawmakers say. Read more

1,000 kids diagnosed with lead poisoning in 2014

By Larry Yellen, http://www.myfoxchicago.com/

1000kidsLead-based paints were banned in 1978, and still one thousand Chicago children were diagnosed with lead poisoning just last year.

Rates in Chicago are four times the national average.

“I just don’t like it when he touches the walls, cause he’ll touch his hands, lick his hands,” said mother Samirah Hall.

Some Chicago mothers fear their children will get lead poisoning, while others recall childhood friends who did.

“He had a problem, because he ate lead. And his mom wasn’t aware that he had eaten it until it was too late. And it affected him his whole life,” said Chicagoan resident Shawnte Burton.

His whole life might have changed if years ago researchers had the tools that are being used now to predict which neighborhoods, even which homes, were most likely to contain lead poisoning hazards.

It would have made Anne Evens job a lot easier. She worked in the city’s lead poisoning prevention program for ten years.

“Most kids get exposed as they’re toddlers and they’re crawling around, exploring their environments, normal behavior.  They get dust on their hands. They put their hands in their mouths. They put toys in their mouths, and that’s how they get exposed,” said Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy.

Now, Evens runs a non-profit which makes homes more energy-efficient by replacing their windows. Many of those windows pre-dated 1978, so the window frames included lead based paints.

“Lead is a neurotoxin, which means it damages your child’s developing brain. That means children with lead poisoning have trouble learning to read. They also suffer from behavioral problems. So they get exposed when they’re toddlers and the problems really show up once they get to school,” Evens said. Read more

Lead Contamination Near Exide Plant May Be Worse Than Previously Thought

By Randy Paige, http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/

Exide plantLead contamination near the Exide Technologies battery-recycling facility in Vernon could be far worse than previously thought.According to environmental health experts, the contamination goes far beyond areas previously known, reported CBS2’s Randy Paige.

Last year, two residential areas within the toxic emissions of the nearby facility were tested and widespread contamination was found.

The state department of Toxic Substances Control required Exide to remove the dirt from the yards of contaminated homes. The two initial areas, north and south of the plant, contained slightly more than 200 homes. But test results are now in for an expanded area.

John Froines, a noted professor emeritus of toxicology at the UCLA School of Public Health, says the amount of contamination in the expanded areas is equal to the contamination in the first two assessment areas – enough lead to poison children who live there.

“There’s no question children are at risk and significantly so,” he said.

CBS2 wanted to speak with Barbara Lee, the director of the state department of Toxic Substances Control, to ask her what her agency is doing to protect the people who live in the community.However, Lee refused to speak to the news station on camera or to answer any questions. She referred the news station instead to her staff, who responded with an email, which said in part: “We did not find any emergency levels of lead as defined by the U.S. EPA.”

The U.S. EPA has two requirements in order to declare an emergency – contaminated soil and victims with lead poisoning in their blood.

While the lead levels were enough to fall under the EPA definition of “emergency,” there were no blood poisoned victims identified. “Thus,” the DTSC writes, “there is no emergency.” Read more

The Scholastic Consequences of Chicago’s Lead Paint Problem

By Aarian Marshall, http://www.citylab.com/

dutchboypaintIt’s killed some children slowly. It’s sent others into convulsions. But in Chicago, in the first decade of this century, a new study finds, the effects of childhood lead poisoning were more subtle—though perhaps equally as devastating. Research published in April by Environmental Health finds that even limited lead exposure in childhood is linked with dramatically lower third-grade test scores, in math as well as reading.

The researchers, mostly Chicago-based public health scientists, looked at a particularly large sample size of Chicago children—58,650—born in the Windy City between 1994 and 1998. First, they used a database of these children’s medical records, with a particular focus on the lead levels in their blood. Then the researchers compared those blood levels with those same students’ performances on third-grade standardized tests, taken in Chicago public schools between 2003 and 2006.

Even after adjusting for poverty, race, gender, and the education levels of each child’s mother, a strong link between lead in the blood and academic performance emerged: The presence of just 5 to 9 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL, the standard measure for blood-lead levels) elevated the risk of failing math and reading standard tests by 32 percent. The researchers estimated that a full 13 percent of failing test numbers in reading and 14.8 percent of failing test numbers in math were due to the effects of lead. This is particularly notable because the Centers for Disease Control only recently halved the bolo levels required for medical intervention in children—from 10 μg/dL prior to 2012, to 5 μg/dL today.

Read more

A Surprising Source of Lead Poisoning: India’s Idols

By Thuppil Venkatesh, http://blogs.wsj.com/

Lead is ubiquitous in modern day life in India.

GaneshA serious threat to health, the metal can be found in the paint on idols and some yellow school buses as well as in battery backups packs and cheap toys. A large proportion of the paints manufactured in India are lead-based.

The annual immersion of painted idols in rivers and lakes across the country raises lead levels of the water and certain types of piping can add lead to the tap water. Even some traditional medicines contain the toxic heavy metal.

When electronics are discarded recklessly, lead can seep into the soil and contaminate ground water in residential areas.

But lead poisoning, particularly among children during growth and development, is preventable.

India only outlawed leaded petrol in March 2000 and since then, the country has moved a little way toward protecting its citizens from exposure to the metal.

Before blood-lead level testing facilities were introduced, many poisoning cases were missed. Now at least, the problem can be identified. Read more

Lead fishing tackle ingested by fish is killing loons and other birds

By Samantha Stark, http://www.dl-online.com/

leadtackleLead’s widespread use has resulted in worldwide environmental contamination, human exposure and significant public health problems.

Lead is an extremely toxic element that, over the years, has been removed from water pipes, gasoline, paint and other sources due to extensive health issues in humans, animals and the environment. Yet toxic lead is still entering the food chain through widespread use of lead fishing tackle.

Thousands of cranes, ducks, swans, loons, geese and other waterfowl ingest lead fishing tackle that was lost in lakes and rivers each year, often resulting in deadly consequences.

“All it takes is one small lead jig to kill a loon,” said Phil Votruba, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) watershed project manager. “It doesn’t take much.” Read more

Massachusetts Students Show Academic Gains After Reducing Lead Exposure, Study Shows

By Hanna Sanchez, http://www.ischoolguide.com/

schoolkidsA new study suggests reducing the children’s lead exposure in Massachusetts have helped them do better in school, Jasmine Garsd of NPR News reported. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an Amherst College associate professor of economics, has been researching on the effects of lead since the 1990s. Her interest on the metal started when she was a graduate student at Harvard and was pregnant with her first child.

“Lead is a very useful metal, which is kind of how we got in this situation,” said Reyes, who lived in a lead-rich house.

“Throughout history people keep using lead despite the fact that it has these neurotoxic effects,” she added. The effects of lead in kids could lead to lower IQ and behavioral problems.

The study, published in the Harvard Educational Review, also found that schools with a larger decline in lead showed greater improvements in test scores. Reyes said the “unsatisfactory performance” in the state would have been 5 percent higher if lead usage remained at 1990 levels.

And “because the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program reduced children’s lead when they were very young,” she added, “those children performed substantially better when they were in elementary school.”

The report also showed 2 percent of children who would have been failing are now doing well because of the state’s lead policy. Read more

Testing Around Exide Plant Continues, Community Voices Frustration over Lack of Clarity in Results

By Sahra Sulaiman, http://la.streetsblog.org/exidmeeting

“I still don’t have a clear picture of what the results [of the lead testing in the Expanded Assessment Areas] are,” said a representative of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard.

We were now nearly two hours into a community workshop explicitly intended to brief residents on the extent to which lead emissions from Exide Technologies’ secondary smelting operations may have contaminated properties found within the Expanded Assessment Areas (see explanation, at left). And a number of stakeholders had met one-on-one with representatives of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH) in the two hours prior to the meeting to get the specific results of testing done on their property.

Having tracked Exide’s many air quality standards violationsover the years and watched family members and friends suffer from the kinds of issues that run rampant in environmental justice (EJ) communities — asthma, cancer, developmental delays, etc. — residents were frustrated. Even as they celebrated the pending closure and dismantling of the battery recycler that they had battled for so long, they were still looking for definitive answers about what Exide had done to their community while it operated for 15 years under a temporary permit and with minimal oversight.

But the science doesn’t always comply with people’s wishes.

“[DTSC] can’t make sense of the data,” head of permitting Rizgar Ghazi acknowledged. “There is no defined pattern” to the contamination discovered. Read more