MisLEAD America’s Secret Epidemic

November 1, 2013 1:19 pm

I first met Tamara Rubin for dinner in New York City last January.  It was then that I realized this was one unwavering mom.  Many of us dream of doing something to make the world a better place, but few of us ever succeed on such a grand scale.  Tamara Rubin is one woman doing everything in her power to make our world a safer place from environmental toxins, and by all accounts, she is succeeding through both her Lead Safe America Foundation and her new documentary, MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic.

In 2005, Rubin’s two children were lead poisoned after a painting contractor performed work on the Rubin’s home without using lead safework practices. When Rubin found out her children had been poisoned by lead dust not only did she set out to do everything she could to help her children, but she also set out to raise awareness and help increase prevention of this avoidable poisoning.

 The use of lead paint was banned by the Federal Government in 1978 so many assume lead paint is no longer an issue. However, most don’t realize that even though this ban occurred decades ago, lead paint is still present in older homes built before the ban took place. If deteriorated or disturbed, this lead paint can become a toxic danger as per The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Furthermore, the amount of lead dust it takes to poison a child is less than the size of a grain of sand, making lead dust a toxic problem as well.  Just the act of opening or closing a window can create enough lead dust to create a hazard. Even roadway paint and bridge paint, which still contain lead, and contaminated soil add additional danger.  In 2010 the new Federal EPA RRP Rule, which regulates the renovation, repair and painting of homes with lead paint, went into effect and has helped decrease the number of children with elevated blood lead levels, but still, lead poisoning remains a huge problem.

For some, lead poisoning is not something that they ever think about, and that is what Rubin is trying to change.  Dubbed “America’s Secret Epidemic” the CDC estimates over 4,000,000 children live in households that could expose them to lead, with over half a million children ages 1-5 already showing elevated blood lead levels. Children older than 5 years can also be affected by lead poisoning, which is why Rubin estimates the number of American children affected by lead in their homes at 22,000,000.   Some of the permanent health effects of lead poisoning include brain, kidney and nerve damage, seizures, headaches, nausea and behavioral and learning disabilities.  Because some of the symptoms of lead poisoning can go undiagnosed, many, even doctors and policymakers, do not realize how ever-present lead and lead poisoning are.

To accomplish her mission of educating parents, doctors and policymakers, and keeping children safe from lead poisoning, not only America's Secret Epidemicdid Rubin create the Lead Safe America Foundation, but she also recently completed her first full length documentary entitled Mislead: America’s Secret Epidemic.  At LEW Environmental, we were thrilled when Rubin asked our company President & CEO, Lee Wasserman, to be interviewed. The documentary’s primary goal is to increase awareness and give viewers specific and immediate actions they can take to reduce their risk.  Excitingly, “Mislead” has been submitted to The SXSW film festival as well as Sundance.

If you’re concerned lead may be in your home Rubin recommends having yourself tested for elevated blood lead levels before having a child to evaluated the hazard level in your home.  She also recommends having your child tested before they start to crawl and again after they start to crawl.  One new product on the market is a lead in saliva test kit that allows anyone to easily test for lead poisoning without the need for needles, which is especially great for small children. Additional in-home kits that test for lead in water, dust, soil, paint and toys are also available.  Knowledge paired with action is a great tool to help you reduce your family’s risk of lead poisoning.