Get The Lead Out…Of Our Environment
“Get the lead out.” It’s a common phrase with a generally positive meaning – “hurry up,” “give it your all,” and so forth. But within the context of this article, its meaning has a more negative slant, but one that leads to a positive conclusion – “get the lead out…of our environment.”
In today’s age, the dangers of lead seeping into the environment are greater than ever and growing day by day. It’s generally released into the atmosphere via the exhaust generated by gas-powered motor vehicles, as well as factory industrial smoke stacks and waste run-off, as well as various sundry products typically found in most households. When released into the atmosphere in particle form, it can spread easily far and wide, providing a large amount of contamination over a vast area.
Lead in our environment has been proven to have a very harmful impact on the health human beings; this is especially true regarding children, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead,” they said. “Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in Behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and Hyperactivity, slowed growth, and in rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.”
The most well-known case of lead contamination these days is the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Starting in April 2014, Flint’s water supply experienced an influx of lead and other contaminants delivered by corrosion of water pipes delivering water from the Flint River. Previously, water was used from Lake Huron and the Detroit River, but after Flint opted to use a different water source as a cost-cutting measure, the ball was rolling on a process that would eventually – and unknowingly – poison the populace of an entire city with highly elevated levels of lead and other toxic elements in their drinking water.
According to WNEM, between 6,000 and 12,000 children in Flint have consumed lead-laden water and will likely encounter a wide range of serious health issues in the future. Countless states and agencies have pitched in to help and cases upon cases of bottled water are being sent to Flint residents on a daily basis since what is coming out of their faucets in their very own homes is toxic. Meanwhile, WIAT notes that Flint is currently the defendant in over 50 lawsuits, and is currently suing the state of Michigan because they lack the funds to defend themselves from this well-deserved legal onslaught in court.
The situation in Flint is one of the most extreme examples of lead contamination and it’s horrific ramifications that one can conjure forth; however, there are others that illustrate the scale and scope of this problem, and how it’s not only affecting humans, but even the creature that is the symbol of the promise and glory of the United States itself.
A sick Bald Eagle located discovered in Bettendorf, Iowa, resisted all attempts to nurse it back to health while a concerned populace looked on. The issue that claimed its life was man-made: lead poisoning, according to WQAD, and this is not the first time an incident like this has occurred to the official national bird of the United States of America; Raptor Advocacy, Rehabilitation and Education Center has taken in 14 Bald Eagles from all over the state of Iowa in just the three past months alone.
“That highlights a big issue that conservationists are trying to battle. Lead is being ingested by the eagles through things like fishing lures and bullets. Those items have non-lead options,” they said. “It's not just the eagles that are suffering from the poisoning from lead. Any animal that eats something with lead in it will pass that poison on to the next animal up in the food chain. Just because bald eagles are protected, doesn`t mean they’re safe. There are many things that humans can do to help the environment, one of which is being aware of how your lifestyle plays a role in the health of the ecosystem.”
But where does one go to get the information that they need to help protect the environment? The internet is a great means of getting help in this regard; there are a number of environmental blogs and websites out there with a plethora of information and advice on how to reduce (if not outright eliminate) our carbon footprint upon the world in which we live. YellowPagesGoesGreen.org, BigGreenPurse.com, LivingGreenAndSavingEnergy.com, GreenTechGazette.com are all well-regarded bastions of “green” living, offering many articles and services that can help you find ways to reduce your impact on the Earth’s delicate ecosystem while possibly helping to cut your energy bills as well; a win-win situation no matter how you look at it.
But combating lead contamination in the environment is also a matter of common sense; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following tips, applied on a local level, can make a difference in your community:
- Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home for lead.
- Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
- Children and pregnant women should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation.
- Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources.
- Regularly wash children’s hands and toys.
- Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components.
- Prevent children from playing in bare soil; if possible, provide them with sandboxes.
These are just a few ideas; visit the CDC link above to see more. But the point is that lead is a very real threat to the health of men, women, children, animals, and even microscopic organisms, and if we all work together, we can reduce – and, ultimately, eliminate – this harmful element from our environment.