Monday, March 16, 2009

Lead and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

I originally shared the following information on, a great site to see links to numerous news articles about the effects of CPSIA, and what many of us are doing to combat this dreadful legislation.

Lead and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

It would be beneficial to all of us fighting CPSIA if one part of our government spoke to another. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) has been fighting lead poisoning in children for almost 20 years now. And doing a very good job of it, from what I can determine. I would think they are more of experts in this area than either Congress or the CPSC. Since neither of those groups will listen to us, I wonder if there is someone at the CDC that they would listen to!

I have been wandering around on their site, and reading through various of their statements for the last few days, and have run across many things there that go along with what we have been saying and fighting.

For one thing, they seem to be attacking the problem logically and scientifically (neither of which can be said for the current “Kings of Lead Prevention” at Congress and the CPSC. One of their first paragraph states clearly: “CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is committed to the Healthy People’s goal of eliminating elevated blood lead levels in children by 2010. CDC continues to assist state and local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs, to provide a scientific basis for policy decisions, and to ensure that health issues are addressed in decisions about housing and the environment.”

Some of the CDC's actual accomplishments (as opposed to what CPSIA has failed and will continue to fail to do) include:

Since its inception in 1990, the CDC childhood lead poisoning prevention effort has:

* Funded nearly 60 childhood lead poisoning prevention programs to develop, implement, and evaluate lead poisoning prevention activities;
* Provided technical assistance to support the development of state and local lead screening plans;
* Fostered agreements between state and local health departments and state Medicaid agencies to link surveillance and Medicaid data;
* Provided training to public health professionals through CDC’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Training Center;
* Developed the Childhood Blood Lead Surveillance System through which 46 states currently report data to CDC;
* Expanded public health laboratory capacity in states to analyze blood and environmental samples and to ensure quality, timely, and accurate analysis of results; and
* Published targeted screening and case management guidelines which provide health departments and health care providers with standards to identify and manage children with elevated blood lead levels.

The CDC has a lengthy document on their website ( about the Federal Strategy in 2000 to almost completely eliminate lead poisoning in children by 2010. Guess what, they didn't need CPSIA to do it! Since the CDC began its work in 1990, they have almost completely eliminated childhood lead poisoning!

Their tips to prevent lead poisoning, which again, not surprisingly to us, don't include removing their old books, clothes, bikes, etc:

"Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead.

The goal is to prevent lead exposure to children before they are harmed. There are many ways parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead. Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.

Lead-based paint is the major source of exposure for lead in U.S. children. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem."

In fact under their FAQs, they have a very short list of the other possible ways to get lead poisoning, outside of old paint in older homes:

"Other sources of lead poisoning are related to:

* hobbies (making stained-glass windows)
* work (recycling or making automobile batteries)
* drinking water (lead pipes, solder, brass fixtures, valves can all leach lead)
* home health remedies (azarcon and greta, which are used for upset stomach or indigestion; pay-loo-ah, which is used for rash or fever)."

What is most amazing to me is that NOTHING on their list of concerns for lead poisoning is being dealt with by CPSIA -- and NOTHING that is being dealt a death blow by CPSIA was ever a lead concern for the CDC!!!

Again, for those of us who are dealing with a law that wants to impede the selling and purchasing of products intended for children up to age 12, the CDC, has a much more reasonable view of who is at risk:

* "Children under the age of 6 years because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths."

And what should we do to prevent lead poisoning in our children. Besides keeping them away from peeling and cracking paint in old homes, this was part of the CDC's advice: "Regularly wash children’s hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources."

Again, it is not their books, clothes, bikes, or other items that are exposing them to lead risks. It is the old paint, and the dust and soil that have been contaminated by old lead paint!

Should we be concerned about lead poisoning in this country? Yes. Should we be overreacting and banning items that have never caused lead problems? Obviously not. The CDC deals with the question of prevention:

"How your child may be exposed:
Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell. Children may be exposed to it from consumer products through normal hand-to-mouth activity, which is part of their normal development. They often place toys, fingers, and other objects in their mouth, exposing themselves to lead paint or dust."

So, again, the ingested lead is a problem for children six and under -- if and only if they eat the lead-laden product (such as a small piece of jewelry, but not the handlebars on their bicycle!)

"Just wearing toy jewelry will not cause your child to have a high level of lead in his/her blood. However, small children often put things in their mouth. If you have a small child in your household you should make sure the child does not have access to jewelry or other items that may contain lead."

In the federal strategy paper mentioned above, the CDC clearly explains who is at risk (and again, the list does not include 12 year olds!):
"Lead is most hazardous to the nation’s roughly 24 million children under the age of 6. Their still-developing nervous systems are particularly vulnerable to lead, and their normal play activities expose them to lead
paint hazards and lead-contaminated dust and soil. Children between ages one and three are at greatest risk because of normal hand-to-mouth activity and the increase in mobility during their second and third years
which make lead hazards more accessible to them."

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