By Lynne Peeples, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
When Jon Fishman’s family moved into their 200-year-old Maine farmhouse years ago, they didn’t think to be concerned about lead paint hazards. That all changed this February, a few minutes after a pediatrician pricked their toddler son’s toe. The rapid blood test revealed the presence of lead.
Tiny, largely invisible particles of the poison, they would later confirm, had taken residence in their home — making them one of the at least 4 million households with children that are exposed to deteriorated lead paint and elevated levels of lead dust, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now Fishman, the drummer for the band Phish, wants to share what he’s learned so that other parents have their young children screened for lead. He also wants to ensure people avoid renting, buying, selling or remodeling a home while blind to the threat of the neurotoxic heavy metal.
“I’m just trying to parlay the little celebrity I have to raise awareness,” he said. Fishman recently donated to the completion of “MisLEAD,” a forthcoming film on the lead issue, and will be hosting screenings in Vermont this October.
Homes built in the early to mid-20th century, during the heyday of lead-based paint, are most worrisome. Yet risks may reside in and around any building constructed or painted before 1978, when lead was finally banned from residential paint sold in the U.S.
“Lead is all over the damn place — aging and chipping,” said Fishman, who also discovered lead hazards in a lakeside cottage and a general store his family owns. “It’s an epidemic. And it’s causing serious health problems in lots of kids around the country.”
Of course, the majority of children who suffer from lead poisoning aren’t celebrity kids with multiple residences. Risks are generally highest in low-income communities, where lead paint can often be seen peeling from poorly-maintained properties. But the poison can still find its way onto the hands and into the mouth of any child.