A Message from President, Amy Winslow: Lead Awareness is Coming, Slowly but Surely

6/17/2015

   
I have been President of Magellan Diagnostics for four years, during which I have read far too many studies and heard from far too many parents about the consequences of lead poisoning.  Before I started here, even though I had young children and live in a state with some of the oldest housing stock, like most of the country, I didn’t appreciate the risks or prevalence of lead exposure.  But, also like most people, once I began hearing stories from parents, and reading about the consequences of lead poisoning and the rates at which it still occurs, I was convinced of the importance of affecting change.

The biggest issue surrounding lead poisoning is lack of awareness.  We have the technology to detect and treat it, both in our environments and in our bodies.  Yet, children are still being poisoned because most physicians, policymakers and parents think it is a problem of the past.  So, opening up the New York Times this weekend, I was happily surprised to see an opinion piece in the Sunday Review from a father sharing his family’s experience with lead poisoning. 

Mr. Beller eloquently describes the shock and frustration that many of us feel when faced with the “false complacency” we meet when talking about lead poisoning.  Though the government has regulated lead and executed expansive projects to clean up lead from the environment, it is still present across the country.  Lead is a heavy metal that is hard to get rid of.  It is found in homes, gardens, water sources and occasionally toys or other household objects at levels high enough to harm our children, yet few people know about it.  The Beller’s experience with their neighbor is sadly unsurprising, and echos similar stories we hear from across the country.

Lead poisoning is 100% preventable and yet it is the number one childhood environmental illness in the United States.  Each year it affects over 500,000 US children, potentially robbing them of IQ points, shortening their attention spans and causing other behavioral and emotional disorders.  The best way to help families like the Bellers is to help spread awareness.  The best way to protect our children is to get them, and the homes they live in, tested. 

Take a moment to read Thomas Beller’s piece here, I hope it will inspire you to learn more and to pass the news along to a few of your friends.  More awareness means better prevention, more children getting checked for exposure, and more homes becoming lead safe, even if it’s only a few households at a time. 

-Amy Winslow

Helpful Links: 

For more information on where lead can be found, the effects of lead poisoning, and how to keep your family safe:  http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips.htm  http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/infographic.htm

To find a lead safe certified contractor: http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm

To keep your family safe during a renovation: http://www2.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family#before

Who to Call When:
You think your child has been exposed to lead: Your pediatrician
If you find lead in your home: Your local health department
You see or are experiencing unsafe work conditions due to lead:            OSHA regional and area offices https://www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html


 

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