Blog Archives

How to test for lead in your home water supply

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

pipes
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, may have you asking, “Does my home’s water contain lead?”

It’s possible. The Environmental Protection Agency says between 10% and 20% of our exposure to lead comes from contaminated water. It’s even worse for the youngest and most vulnerable: Babies can get between 40% and 60% of their exposure to lead by drinking formula mixed with contaminated water.

Lead “bio-accumulates” in the body, which means it stays and builds up over time, so ongoing exposure, even at extremely low levels, can become toxic. While the EPA says you can’t absorb lead through the skin while showering or bathing with lead-contaminated water, you certainly don’t want to drink it, cook with it, make baby formula with it or use it to brush your teeth. 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

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

Brooklyn tot has high levels of toxic lead while NYCHA denies paint is a problem

By Greg B. Smith, http://www.nydailynews.com

leadpaintstampWhen tests showed Helen Jackson’s 2-year-old daughter had dangerous levels of toxic lead in her blood, the worried mom instantly suspected her public housing apartment.

Tests by city health officials say she might be right — though New York City Housing Authority officials insist she’s not. An attorney assisting the Jackson family knows which agency she believes.

“It’s clear that NYCHA is trying not to be blamed because they’re at fault, and the proof of that is the lead in that child’s body,” said lawyer Bonita Zelman. “Since she was born, she has only lived in that apartment.”

While NYCHA claimed paint in Jackson’s Brooklyn home tested negative for lead, a March 25 visit by city health inspectors found different. Read more

Source of lead in San Marcos water still unknown

By Eleanor Beck, http://www.kvue.com

pipesAfter spending more than $113,000 in taxpayer money to investigate the source of lead contamination in portions of San Marcos and Hays County water, neither government has found the origin of the problem.

Water to the Hays County Government Center was shut off to the public after tests revealed lead. The discovery prompted city-wide testing, which showed unacceptably high levels of lead at several other sites.

“We’ve tried everything,” said Clint Garza, county development services director. “Since last summer, we’ve tested every piece of pipe that we can pull from the building.”

That includes samples from all four manufacturers the county purchased pipe from to build the government center, which was completed in 2011. Garza said the samples were subjected to rigorous tests in highly corrosive environments, designed to break them down and make them release any lead contained in the pipe lining. The tests were repeatedly unsuccessful.

Read more

Rat Study Links Lead to Schizophrenia

By Rick Nauert PHD, http://psychcentral.com/

Rat StudyA new study of the brains of rats exposed to lead suggests the metal may contribute to the onset of schizophrenia.

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health researchers found striking similarities in the rat brains to what is known about the brains of human schizophrenia patients.

A description of the study results appear in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

The researchers found that lead had a detrimental effect on cells in three brain areas implicated in schizophrenia: the medial prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the striatum of rats exposed to lead before birth and in the early part of their lives.

Moreover, the density of brain cells declined by approximately one-third — roughly the same percentage decline seen in schizophrenia patients.

Imaging technology also revealed higher levels of a dopamine receptor similar to what has been documented in human schizophrenia patients, and in a previous study of genetically engineered mice.

“The similarities in the brain structure and neuronal systems between what we see in lead-exposed rats and human schizophrenia patients are striking, and adds to a growing body of literature suggesting that early lead exposure primes the brain for schizophrenia later in life,” said senior author Tomás Guilarte, Ph.D. Read more

Wausau mulls its options to achieve lead compliance

By Nora G. Hertel, Daily Herald Media

pipesThe city is about to hire a new full-time employee to help it get lead levels in its water under control, even though partially replacing old lead pipes might exacerbate the problem and a mistake in the test process means it’s a low-level threat.

“We stubbed our toe,” said Interim Public Works and Utilities Director Joe Gehin.

“We think one sample was taken at the wrong faucet,” Wausau Utility Resources Manager Deb Geier explained.

More than 10 percent of water samples in routine tests exceeded lead limits, so the state Department of Natural Resources, enforcing federal regulations, ordered the city to replace some pipes and test water in more homes. Lead can cause problems from neurological disorders to birth defects.

Wausau now is seeking homeowners with lead pipes to help test out of some of the requirements. Residents can call the water utility to learn whether their pipes are made of lead. The testing will not cost property owners directly, but it will cost the city between $75 and $100 per test. Read more

Landlord accused of forging lead paint documents

By Anthony Fay, http://wwlp.com

fraud-photoSpringfield property manager Dwayne Johnson has been indicted for allegedly submitting false lead inspection reports so he could receive Section 8 housing payments.

Johnson, 46, was indicted Wednesday by a Hampden County Superior Court jury on two counts of uttering false or forged records. He is accused of submitting false reports in November of 2011 and October of 2013 to HAP Housing, which administers the Section 8 program in greater Springfield. According to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, HAP and the Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program reviewed the documents and determined them to be false, and the matter was referred to the AG’s office.

Prosecutors say that Johnson committed the alleged forgery by altering a legitimate lead inspection report, which was issued for a different property. They say that the two properties that Johnson was renting were not compliant with the state’s lead paint regulations, and that he rented one of the properties to a parent living with two young children. Read more

Young Shooters at Risk

By Christine Willmsen and Lewis Kamb, seattletimes.com

vancouver-rangeThe youngsters knew their sport could be dangerous, even deadly.

But for the junior team at the Vancouver (Wash.) Rifle and Pistol Club, the peril that emerged from their sport didn’t come from a stray bullet.

It came from lead.

In 2010, blood tests revealed that 20 youths had been overexposed to the poisonous metal after shooting in the club’s dirty, poorly ventilated range.

“It was devastating,” said Marc Ueltschi, the junior team coach and a club member. “It scared the life out of me. No one knew anything about lead poisoning and what to fix.”

Vancouver Rifle is just one of several private gun clubs across the United States that have posed health hazards in a sport with growing numbers of youths and women.

While those most likely to be poisoned by lead in gun ranges are the workers themselves, The Seattle Times has found dozens of avid shooters overexposed in such states as Washington, Massachusetts and Alaska.

The most vulnerable are children learning to shoot and compete in clubs operated by volunteers who may have little knowledge of the risks of firing lead ammunition. Gunfire can put lead residue in the air, and on the skin and nearby surfaces. Read more