Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Face Time on the News

This morning I took part in a news conference with the county health department. I'm part of a coalition that is promoting housing that is safe from lead paint. This is a HUGE issue, but very few people recognize it. For example, did you know that a federal rule requires that a contractor who is going to disturb paint in a house that was built before 1978 MUST give the homeowner a brochure on the risks of lead paint? When is the last time you heard of any contractor doing that? The EPA has not enforced the rule, but has allowed it to stay on the books. The advantage of having that rule on the books is that local enforcement agencies can go after violating contractors when a child is found to have high lead levels. The EPA is now looking at making the rule voluntary. This would take a very important enforcement tool away from local public health agencies.

We held the news conference at a house that my employer is rehabbing. We will have to have a lead clearance when the work is complete. It was a great place to have the news conference as it is an example of the work necessary to get a home lead safe. I ended up getting face time on the tv news because one of the stations showed up late, so they needed to interview someone in order to get some audio from the event. They ended up using my interview, so that was cool. One of the other stations also showed the event throughtout the evening and gave a plug for my employer, also a very cool thing. I only wish that people understood how important this issue is. When the local CBS station (which gave me face time) ended the piece they mentioned that 254 children have been found to have lead poisoning in the last five years. Unfortunately lead poisoning is a lot like drunk driving. At what point is a person impaired by their condition? Children can have lead levels that are not considered "poisoned," but still suffer serious effects from the lead in their system. There have been hundreds of additional children who have been found to have lead in their systems, just not enough to be called "poisoned." Yet many really were.