Blog Archives

Leaked Emails Claim Snyder Administration Withheld Lead Testing Results

By Bryce Covert, http://thinkprogress.org/

In emails obtained by The Flint Journal, local health officials in Flint accuse the administration of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) of withholding the results of lead testing in the city’s schools before making them public.

Flint switched its water source in April 2014 to the Flint River and failed to use corrosion controls, steps that are now known to have caused dangerous levels of lead to leach into the city’s water system. On October 2, 2015, a day after Snyder says he learned that there were elevated lead levels in the city, he initiated lead testing, including at the schools.

But the results of those tests weren’t released to the public for six days, despite the numerous health risks associated with consuming lead-contaminated water. In one of the emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Jim Henry, the county’s environmental health supervisor, wrote, “MDEQ [the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality] explained that the Governor prohibited releasing all Genesee County lead results until after the press conference,” which took place on October 8.

In an interview this Wednesday with the Journal, Henry elaborated that Genessee County officials like him didn’t learn about the test results until they were distributed at the press conference. “They should have alerted the schools and they didn’t,” he said.

The tests, when made public, showed that three school district buildings tested above 15 parts of lead per billion, the threshold above which the Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking corrective action, although researchers say there is no safe level of lead. One school tested at 101 parts per billion, more than six times that level. 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

Teachers, Students Say Jordan Elementary Mold Made Them Ill

By Liz Collin, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/

jordan elementaryHospitalized children, and their parents, say it’s because of what they’re breathing at school.

Halle Wassenberg, 7, spent months seeing different doctors.

“It made me feel yucky,” she told WCCO. “It didn’t feel good at all.”

She’s one of three students in the same classroom to leave Jordan Elementary School this year. Two teachers have also left. They all blame mold for making them sick. The school maintains the building is safe.

But a WCCO Investigation found mold concerns months ago were kept from parents. Read more

Moldy Homes May Mean More Asthma in Young Kids

By Tara Haelle, HealthDay Reporter

MoldceilingChildren appear more likely to develop asthma if their living rooms, kitchens or bedrooms have mold or moisture damage, according to a new study.

Children were most susceptible to developing asthma with mold exposure during their first two years of life, or if they already had allergies. However, mold did not increase children’s risk of developing allergies in the first place.

“The most significant finding was that moisture damage with or without mold in the rooms where children are expected to spend most of their time is associated with increased asthma risk, and it appears to be permanent,” said lead researcher Anne Karvonen, a senior researcher in Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare.

In other words, children’s asthma continued through age 6, and visible mold in children’s bedrooms or living rooms presented the highest risk, she said. Read more

The Lead Hazard In Schools That Won’t Go Away

By Lynne Peeples, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

leadmugsThe worn, heart-shaped rug that greeted you upon entering Angela Molloy Murphy’s preschool was a reflection of the love she has for the 17 children she cares for daily in her home’s remodeled basement.

To Tamara Rubin, however, the welcome mat was more of a warning sign.

“You need to throw this out,” Rubin told Murphy.

Rubin is executive director of the nonprofit Lead Safe America Foundation. On a visit to the preschool earlier this May, she pointed an X-ray fluorescence heavy-metal detector at the rug’s faded red threads and relayed the bad news: It was loaded with lead.

Within the course of an hour, Murphy learned just how pervasive the toxic heavy metal was in her home and school: It was in the chips of lead paint on her deck steps, in dust rubbed free from door and window frames, in the glazes on her students’ thrift-store mugs. The rug itself, Rubin suggested, was likely a reservoir for lead chips and dust tracked around on students’ shoes.

As students return to the classroom this fall, experts and advocates are warning of the overlooked health hazard plaguing daycares, preschools and elementary schools across the country.

Lead has been a popular paint additive for centuries. It speeds up drying and increases durability, as its makers once boasted in their marketing materials. But as a judge ruled in a high-profile case in California last December, lead paint manufacturers spent much of the 1900s deceiving the public with another claim: That their product was safe, even for young children, despite a long history of evidence suggesting otherwise. Ben Franklin wrote of lead’s “mischievous” effects in 1786, and one lead-paint maker admitted in aninternal company memo in 1900 that “any paint is poisonous in proportion to the percentage of lead contained in it.”

The science remains clear that anyone can be affected by lead exposure, and that children under the age of 6 face the greatest risk. And as lead exposure is linked to a growing list of health conditions, researchers are finding that it takes less and less lead to put one at risk. Read more

The children who played with asbestos

By Francesca Williams, BBC News

Children in a County Durham village used to spend their days playing with lethal asbestos from a local factory. One, now 51, has cancer. What will happen to the rest?

It is the late 1960s and a little girl is playing hopscotch on a grid she has marked out – not with chalk, but a lump of asbestos.Caroline Wilcock

Forty-five years later she will be contemplating the cancerous mesothelioma in her lungs which is “growing out like a fungus”.

“I was doomed from then,” Caroline Wilcock says. “There was nothing I could have done between then and now to make a difference. I’m pleased I didn’t know it.”

She was one of many children in Bowburn who, between 1967 and 1983, played with asbestos from the factory opposite her house.

Its parent company, Cape Intermediate Holdings, is paying her a “substantial” out-of-court settlement, although it has denied liability for her illness.

Caroline describes a white, chalky film of asbestos dust on “the grass, the flowers and the bushes”. It also settled on window ledges.

The mothers were less impressed. Ann Sproat, a friend of Caroline’s sister, remembers them constantly cleaning.

“If cleaning wasn’t done we couldn’t see out the windows,” she says. “It was coming down like little dust particles, like tiny little aniseed balls.” Read More

Op-Ed: The struggle against lead poisoning, young children most at risk

By R. C. Camphausen, http://www.digitaljournal.com

While lead in paint has been banned in Europe and the US for years, certain companies still produce lead paint and sell it abroad. There, yet also at home, young children still suffer the consequences: lower IQ, slowed body growth, failure at school.
Lead is a metal found in soil, water, air and dust — as well as in products used in or around our homes; for example in paint and toys. Lead is dangerous for both children and adults, yet the very young, up to age six, are most likely to contract lead poisoning as they breathe in or swallow dust from old lead paint particles that collect on floors and windowsills, hands and toys.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/348382#ixzz2Wbw9zgZs