Toxicologist Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, a regular guest who is helping us understand the toxicity of common chemicals we may be frequently exposed to. Dr. Gilbert is Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and author of A Small Dose of Toxicology- The Health Effects of Common Chemicals. He received his Ph.D. in Toxicology in 1986 from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, is a Diplomat of American Board of Toxicology, and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington. His research has focused on neurobehavioral effects of low-level exposure to lead and mercury on the developing nervous system. Dr. Gilbert has an extensive website about toxicology called Toxipedia, which includes a suite of sites that put scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture. www.toxipedia.org
LISTEN TO OTHER SHOWS WITH STEVEN G. GILBERT, PhD, DABT
- Toxics in the Air We Breathe—Indoors and Outdoors—and How it Affects Our Health
- Toxic Solvents and Vapors
- How Pesticides Can Harm Your Health
- Why Do People Doubt the Science Behind Toxics?
- Fewer Chemicals Make Healthier Babies
- Why We Shouldn’t Have Nuclear Power Plants
- How Mercury Affects Your Health
- Persistant Bioaccumulative Toxicants
- How Endocrine Disruptors Disrupt Our Endocrine Systems
- The Dangers of Exposure to Radiation and How to Protect Yourself
- Toxics Throughout History—Exposure to Toxic Substances is Not New
- The Ethics of Toxics
- How to Determine Your Risk of Harm From an Exposure to a Toxic Chemical
- The Basic Principles of Toxicology
- Meet a Toxicologist
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
There is No Safe Level for Lead Exposure
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT
Date of Broadcast: February 03, 2015
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic-free.
Today, I’m juggling things technically because I’ve been having some technical problems with my main computer where we usually do the show. I’m trying to hook this up on my laptop. Right now, I’m on the phone, but during the break, we will try to go on the laptop. I think I know what the problem is.
Anyway, it’s fun doing Talk Radio live and having to deal with all these things. But we’re going to have a great show today.
It’s Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015. And we’re going to talk about lead today. We probably should’ve done this show way back when I started doing this Toxic Free Talk Radio because there is no safe level for lead exposure. We’ve mentioned that I know on different shows.
But today we’re going to be talking with my favorite toxicologist, Dr. Steven Gilbert, author of A Small Dose of Toxicology and he also has a wonderful website called Toxipedia.org with just so much information about toxic issues from all different directions.
So hi, Dr. Gilbert.
STEVEN GILBERT: Hi Debra. So you’re having trouble this morning with your computers. That’s a lot of fun!
DEBRA: You know what? I can hardly hear you, so maybe the studio needs to turn you up a little bit but just speak up a little bit. We’ll fix all this during the break.
STEVEN GILBERT: Is this better?
DEBRA: That’s a little better. I will just listen very closely, but I’m sure you’re fine to all our listeners.
Okay! So Dr. Gilbert, tell us a little bit about your background, Toxipedia and your book.
STEVEN GILBERT: So the book, A Small Dose of Toxicology is a free e-book off the Toxipedia website. You get to it through Toxipedia.org or ASmallDoseof.org for the book. And on the book, there’s a chapter on lead. There’s a lot of other chapters. You can download them chapter by chapter if you’d rather do that. There’s also a Powerpoint presentation that summarizes the health effects of lead.
You’ve got two resources there, a chapter on lead. We also have a big section on the website about lead. You can download the Powerpoint presentation and learn more about lead. There are a lot of other chapters on nicotine and pesticides and bit of little toxicology.
We try to put information in the context of history, society and culture to explain the issue behind the scenes of all the toxic agents that we’re all exposed to.
DEBRA: I think the work you’re doing is very interesting because there’s a lot of toxicology books that are academic, dry and boring. For all listeners, this is actually a very easy book to read. It’s got a lot of information and Dr. Gilbert really knows what he’s talking about. It’s a good book for everybody to read. It’s a good starter book, a good beginner’s book. If you don’t know anything about Toxicology, you’ll learn about toxicology from this book.
STEVEN GILBERT: It’s also been translated in Chinese and we’re working on German and Arabic right now. There’s a little poster called The Milestone of Toxicology which summarizes the history of toxicology.
DEBRA: That’s a very interesting poster. I liked reading that poster about the history. It has things that have happened in toxicology on this date. So what has happened in toxicology on this date, today in toxicology?
STEVEN GILBERT: Not too much has happened on this day. I tweeted a little bit about peace issues. They’re trying to reduce exposure to chemicals and nuclear weapons. Toxicology is not a big deal today.
DEBRA: Oh, okay. Well, there are many other days with a lot of interesting things happening in the world of toxicology.
STEVEN GILBERT: We try to know when people are born like chemists and toxicologists [inaudible 00:05:41] principle was first conceived and things like that. We try to put things into perspective.
DEBRA: Yes, I find that very interesting. Let’s talk about lead.
STEVEN GILBERT: Lead is a really, really interesting compound that’s widely used. And it’s spread all over the environment by putting lead in gasoline and in paint. And this has done tremendous damage to our children and to society as we developed because there’s so much contamination that really harms the developing nervous system.
There’s a great lesson in toxicology. What they will point out is that Europe banned lead-based paint in the 1920s, the League of Nations. The United States didn’t ban lead-based paint until 1978. This caused enormous damage to our children. So we really should take a more precautionary measure to lead. Lead is still an important issue in our society.
My granddaughter just had her fourth birthday and we took her to the arena park we have nearby here in Seattle, Washington. It happened that at the entryway, they had a thing called the Bouncy House, this big, inflatable toys. I’m sure many of your listeners have seen those. Kids can bounce around them. And the sign outside the bouncy house said, “All Arenea Sports offers lead-free inflatables.”
So they’re really pushing that they have lead-free inflatables. So how would lead get into inflatables? Well, they recycle plastic and lead is used as a stabilizer in plastics, in PVCs, in garden hoses and other plastic items. So you can get lead in your recycled plastics, which are what bouncy houses are made of. It’s interesting to see that they’re making a big deal out of the fact that they have lead-free inflatables.
We’re still dealing with lead on a day to day basis and trying to protect our children from lead exposure. Artificial [inaudible 00:07:42] was another big one where lead shows up.
DEBRA: Wow! But you said on another show when I was asking about lead on electrical cords, I think and people touching lead. Tell us about what are the routes of exposure that lead can get into your body because it doesn’t get in from every route?
STEVEN GILBERT: The big route of exposure is hand-to-mouth. And this is a really important route of exposure particularly for kids that are crawling around on the carpet because you can track lead into the home.
If you’re in an area with an old smelter for example or where a lot of pesticides are used like in Eastern Washington’s apple orchards, you can get lead on the dirt and track lead in the home. Kids crawl around on the carpets and you’ve got lead build up in the carpet through hand-to-mouth behavior. It contaminates them also with lead.
And also with lead, lead’s slightly sweet. So if they’ve been to a window sill, they can get a little bit of lead passed to their hands and ingest the lead that way.
And this is really serious for kids because kids are not little adults. Children absorb 50% of the lead that they ingest, whereas adults only absorb about 10%. This is because lead substitutes for calcium. Kids are growing, they need calcium in their bones and lead is readily absorbed in exchange for calcium. So children absorb about 50% of what they ingest and adults about 10%, which means children are a lot more vulnerable to the health effects of lead, as well as their developing nervous system makes their nervous system more vulnerable.
This has also been a serious issue with lead-based paint and also with lead gasoline. Lead levels dropped precipitously after lead was banned from gasoline in the 70s. [inaudible 00:09:34] gasoline until the mid-80s. But in Washington, you can still get lead in gasoline. So putting lead in gasoline was probably one of the worst public health decisions ever made.
You can also be exposed to lead from toys. Two years ago, there was a big deal from China with the lead-painted toys coming from China. They can be in jewelry. There are a lot of cheap jewelry manufacturers. The lead’s great because it has a low melting point, so it’s easy to make jewelry with it – lead-based jewelry, pottery. So there’s just many points of exposure.
Any house painted before particularly the 60s, you really have to be thinking it might have lead in the paint. Remember, lead wasn’t banned from paint until 1978.
You can get it from fishing lures, from hunting shotguns and bullets. Firing ranges are a great source of lead contamination. There have been some serious cases of lead contamination from firing ranges that are not properly ventilated. So people using these ranges, kids that come in and use these ranges, they’re contaminated with lead. The list just goes on and on.
DEBRA: And even lead in lipstick. And we’ll talk more about this when we come back because we need to go to break. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is toxicologist, Steven Gilbert, author of A Small Dose of Toxicology and publisher of the Toxipedia.org website. And we’ll be right back.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. If I sound so much gloriously better now, it’s because I learned how to hook up my microphone to my laptop. Isn’t technology wonderful?
Okay, Dr. Gilbert. Let’s go on with talking about lead. I’m kind of in this strange position of talking on the laptop, but looking at the desktop. I’ll get it all sorted out. Can you hear me, Dr. Gilbert.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, but you’re a little soft. That’s good.
DEBRA: Okay, okay. Can you hear me now?
STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, that’s better.
DEBRA: Okay, I’ll talk right into the mic for you.
Alright! So let’s go on about lead. Tell us more about the health effects. There are different types of lead, isn’t there? Industrial lead is different from lead that naturally occurs in the environment.
STEVEN GILBERT: Well, there’s a little bit difference in lead, but lead is a heavy metal, so it’s pretty widely distributed from concentrated lead mines. And as far as lead mines, we’re actually at about 6,500 B.C. So we’ve had a long history of using lead.
The Roman Empire used a lot of lead for plumbing actually. They used for wine. Different types of lead are used for that.
But the lead that’s distributed in the environment is mostly related to the properties of the metal and its substitution for calcium.
What’s really interesting, that Romans knew that lead makes the give away. There’s a great quote from a Greek physician in 2 B.C that lead makes the mind give away. So we’ve known for two millennia that lead is toxic to the developing nervous system.
For kids, it lowers their IQ. That’s the most sensitive measure. But in the 60s and even before that, many kids would die from excessive lead exposure. Then they’d have brain encephalitis where the brain would swell up and the kids would die. They actually would drill a hole in the skull to release pressure on the brain.
For a long time, we thought, “Well, this is not a big deal, no long term health hazards.” But we learned, we only studied how it affects life [inaudible 00:16:16] cause reading difficulties and drops in IQ scores. And this is really serious for future generations of children. Every child has a right to reach and maintain their full potential. But when they’re exposed to lead early on, they cannot do that.
So lead has a variety of effects. It has effects on the adult. We’re trying to limit exposure in adults. It’s primarily used paint, stripping of paint and smelters. So it’s widespread exposure to lead in many forms.
DEBRA: Even now today?
STEVEN GILBERT: Even now today. For example, in Nigeria, there was mining for gold. And in some of these villages, they would smelt. The dirt and some of the materials from these mines, they’re heavily contaminated with lead. Four hundred children died from exposure from Nigerian mines. So this stuff goes on.
We tried to limit the lead importation into the United States of lead painted toys. We just keep coming up with lead exposure. Children are exposed to lead in candies because there are these wrappers in these candies because lead was used in the dyes of the paint. Kids would un-wrap the candies like the lollipops and get the paint on their fingers and ingest the lead from candies.
Lead in jewelry, if kids swallow the jewelry or they touch them with their hands, again, they’re being exposed to lead. And as I said before, lead ingestion in kids is really serious because lead is readily absorbed.
So it’s really an insidious product. We really need to be on top of control here. Across the United States, particularly like in Idaho and the big smelter operation they have, large areas [inaudible 00:18:03] particularly in little orchards where arsenic and lead were used in orchards.
So lead is still everywhere. We’re still trying to [inaudible 00:18:15] lead-based paint in older housing.
DEBRA: What happens when lead gets in your body? Does it just stay there and build up, or does your body excrete it?
STEVEN GILBERT: Lead is primarily sequestering bones, so there’s an exchange of calcium. The half-life of lead is about 25 days in the blood. So you ingest the lead and it drops relatively quickly. If your blood level is up about 20 deciliters, which should be very high, maybe it’ll drop to about ten in roughly a month.
The lead, it can also go into the muscle, but it’s sequestering the bones. So this is a serious and important point If you’re exposed to lead while you’re growing up (and particularly if you’re a woman), for this lead to be sequestering the bones.
And then during pregnancy, the developing child needs a lot of lead – or not a lot of lead, sorry. It needs a lot of calcium. The bone de-mineralizes in the woman and then mobilizes the lead that’s in the bone. And then that lead then moves to the fetus.
So you can pass this on from one generation to the next. In excessive levels of lead exposure, that means [inaudible 00:19:25] the bone.
Otherwise, for women, post-menopausal women, as your levels drop, there’s more de-mineralization of bone. You can mobilize the lead that’s in the bone. And that’s the primary source of a lifetime exposure, bone lead. The half life of lead in the bone is measured in years, like 20 years because bone turnover is really slow. Unless there’s [inaudible 00:19:50] or broken bone or anything where you’re de-mineralizing the bone, the lead stays pretty sequestered in the bone.
DEBRA: That’s just amazing to me, how over such a time period, you are exposed to lead today and then it takes so long for it to go through your body system and then you’re exposed to it tomorrow and there’s more and you’re exposed to it the next day and there’s more. So it’s pretty easy for lead to build up in your body and then release when a time comes that would make that happen.
STEVEN GILBERT: Lead’s pretty fascinating, how it moves around the body and how it’s distributed in the environment. We take it in. We can also handle it a little bit. You should never remove lead from your home by using heat. The EPA has a lot of restrictions on lead removal now from the home environment, which I think is very important. The lead removal has to be done by certified workers that know how to move the lead so you’re not contaminating the home.
If you have an older home, you can test it for lead. You can get a test kit to do that for a more qualitative than quantitative test.
But they also have a way to easily test for lead. It’s called an XRF. You can use it for paint or a toy to find out if there’s lead contamination. These things are very available now. You can find them even in your local cities.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest for today is Dr. Steven Gilbert. Usually, I do a lot better. On this show, I have so many mishaps, but it’s okay and we’ll go on. We’ll be right back.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert. He’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology and he is the founder, director, publisher of Toxipedia.org. Both the book and the website are fantastic sources of information about toxic chemicals of all kinds and how they affect your health.
I want to mention that many years ago, people started asking me, “What are the most important toxic chemicals that I should be removing from my life?” And of course, the way to assess that is by finding out what the health effects are at different levels. And there is no safe level for lead. We can keep saying that over and over because there are many chemicals that have so called “safe levels” established, but there is no safe level for lead.
And if you want to know where all the sources of lead are, you can search for the terms, “sources of lead exposure”. And if you do that, you’ll see that the Center for Disease Control, WebMD, the National Institute of health, as well as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have pages on it. You can just go down the list and see that everybody is telling you, “Here is where lead is and you need to not be exposed to it.” It’s probably the number one chemical or metal to be concerned about. Number one toxic exposure because there is no safe level for it.
Dr. Gilbert, in your book, you have a very interesting chart that has the effects of lead in children and adults. And what was interesting to me about that is that you have the blood level, and then you show what the symptoms at that level are for children and for adults. And it really shows that how much you’re being exposed to it and how it might accumulate in your body makes a big difference in what the symptoms are. Can you tell us a little bit about that chart?
STEVEN GILBERT: One of the reasons that I prepared that was that when you try to compare adults to children, it really shows that children are more sensitive to the health effects of lead. Frequently, it’s a lower of lead exposure. But it goes through all the different symptoms. It affects the blood spike, for example. [Inaudible 00:29:32] neuropathies in adults. And the most devastating for children is IQ dropping, and learning and hearing disabilities. So it’s a wide range of effects
But the big message from that chart is that children are more susceptible to the health effects of lead. The Center for Disease Control has another chart that I’ve put together that shows historically how we got more sensitive to the health effects of lead and the Center for Disease Control gradually dropped its concern levels for lead. In 1981, it got stuck at 10 micrograms per deciliter.
Two of the important things that happened in the last 10 to 15 years were that measuring blood lead levels got a lot easier to do with new instrumentation. On the average, blood lead level across the United States is usually below 2, around 1.3. But then that does not mean that there are not places across the United States where there are kids with higher blood lead levels.
Just a couple of years ago, the Center for Disease Control lowered its blood lead level to five micrograms per deciliter. In 2016, [inaudible 00:30:39] should be two.
I really encourage listeners to have your children get tested for blood lead frequently around the ages of two and three, and see if they have any kind of exposure to lead. If it’s above two, it really means you have some kind of environmental exposure to lead, which should be eliminated.
So the most important thing to do is find that source and try to eliminate it and keep your blood lead below two micrograms per deciliter.
DEBRA: Good advice, good advice. So, one of the things that you can do for lead exposure, depending on where your lead exposure is that you’re trying to control is that you can either eliminate it (like if you have lead paint chips, you can call someone in and pay people to remove it) or you can encapsulate it. And it’s a lot less expensive to encapsulate lead paint.
If you’re living in an older house and you have lead paint, you can paint over it and encapsulate it. It won’t go through the paint because it’s a metal particle. So you can just paint over it and it’ll stay there as long as the paint stays there.
There’s more information on lead than we can possibly cover in this show, so I just want to make sure that all of you just have the idea that this is something that really needs to be paid attention to. You need to find out what those sources are.
Again, you can search for “sources of lead exposure” on your favorite search engine and there are just plenty of websites that have lists of where the lead is. And then you can see if you have those things in your home and see what you can do about it because this is really something that you want to make sure you have the lowest possible exposure to.
STEVEN GILBERT: If you’re buying a home or renting, the laws require that the seller or rental owner declare if there is any lead in the home. It’s very important to have your home tested for it, especially if you buy a home that is older than 1978. Have them tested for lead particularly if you have young children.
And you can encapsulate the lead and paint over it, but it still does not eliminate the paint chips. You’ll still have to deal with that lead as the house ages and as the paint chips. If you have window sills that open and close, you can get a little bit of lead dust. Even if you paint over it, they drip off the window sills when they’re moved up and down. And when kids pull themselves up on window sills, they get lead dust on their hands. And because kids are small, a small lead exposure means a big dose for the child.
So really, like you said Debra again and again, there really is no safe level of lead exposure. Any source of lead exposure, you really want to eliminate. It’s important to vacuum, to clean well, and find out if you have lead in your home by testing for it.
DEBRA: You do. Now, here’s another source. I’m looking at the WebMD website where they have an article called Five Surprising Sources of Lead Exposure. And the last exposure that they have is lead in water pipes. They say that 10-20% of childhood lead poisoning is contaminated drinking water, and that’s old plumbing. They say that pipes from 1930 or earlier can contain lead. And some pipes were actually made of lead and brass fixtures, so there can be lead in your water faucet itself. And lead solder was also used to join pipes.
But even if your old house doesn’t have lead pipes, it could be the supply pipes that could still be very old. We’ll talk more about this when we come back. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and our guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert. He’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology and his website is Toxipedia.org. We’ll be right back.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Our guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert from Toxipedia.org, author of A Small Dose of Toxicology, a book that I’m constantly saying is wonderful.
If you want a direct link to get that book, just go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and look for Dr. Gilbert’s listing about this show you’re listening to right now. If you click the cover of his book, it’ll take you exactly to the page on his website where you can download the book. It’s in English and some other languages.
So before the break, we were talking about lead in water pipes. And the article from WebMD was talking about how pre-1930, water pipes have lead in it. But then they go on to say that what’s surprising is that new homes have a greater risk for lead because some plumbers still use lead solder to join copper pipes. This exposes the water directly to lead.
They say that the risk is highest in houses that are less than five years old. After that, mineral deposits build up on the pipes that insulate the water from the lead in the solder. The EPA says that you should assume that any building that is less than five years old has lead contaminated water. This is where you really need to have a water filter, if you’re in a new home that’s less than five years. For this reason if no other, you need to have a water filter to keep your children safe.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, they have lead in solder for plumbing pipes, but the fixtures can have some lead in them too. It’s rather astonishing that we still allow lead in our water supply. In Seattle, it showed up that a school had lead contaminated water from some of the valves and switching mechanisms. And at Washington, DC, there’s another case of lead exposure. Some of the really old homes will have lead coming from the water mains into the homes that are made out of lead. We’re still dealing with lead and water.
I’ll give you another source of lead. If you live near an airport, the old propeller-driven planes use leaded gasoline. It’s not the jet engines, but the [inaudible 00:41:18]. If you live near an airport that uses these and they fly over your home, they’re spewing leaded gasoline out of those engines. They’re contaminating the environment with lead.
NASCAR just got rid of leaded gasoline a few years ago, which always astonishes me because the bowls where they have those racetracks would just be a source of lead. Those cars just get a few miles per gallon and they’re contaminating their whole field with lead and kids are there.
So [inaudible 00:41:45], we still have not address lead contamination.
DEBRA: So this is where we need to protect ourselves as consumers. I would love to live in a world where all the products are non-toxic and we wouldn’t need to protect ourselves. But the reality is that each one of us needs to take responsibility for reducing our exposure and reducing whatever chemicals are already in our bodies by detox, drinking a lot of water, eating a lot of vegetables, and all the other things I write about on my website.
STEVEN GILBERT: That’s a really important point. I think you’re right on, Debra because we’re not only exposed to lead, we’re exposed to a whole variety of contaminants from pesticides to mercury in our fish, to a wide range of materials that we need to reduce.
DEBRA: One of the things in the field of toxicology is the synergistic effect of chemicals. Does lead combine with any other chemicals that we know to make them worse?
STEVEN GILBERT: There’s no [inaudible 00:42:53] that combines chemicals too much, but if you take something like mercury, it also affects the nervous system.
So if you have multiple chemicals (pesticides in the same way), when you’re exposed to a little bit of pesticide and a little bit of lead, it all adds up together to create a bad environment for children who are trying to reach their full potential.
We really have to take a more holistic approach to this. There was an article in the paper today documenting that mercury in tuna fish is rising in the Pacific Ocean. A lot of this could be laid on China, which has mercury coming out of coal. There’s a little bit of lead and a lot of arsenic in coal waste from coal-fired plants. We’re continuing to contaminate the environment which affects our food supply and water systems.
DEBRA: Yes. Now, I want to talk about lead in dinnerware because that’s a question that I get a lot. And so people are concerned and they want to buy lead-free dinnerware. The thing about lead in the dinnerware is that there is some lead in dinnerware and especially in imported, brightly-colored dinnerware. And there’s a lot of dinnerware that doesn’t have lead. And there’s dinnerware where lead is not added into the glaze, where it’s usually found.
But the manufacturers don’t want to say they’re lead-free because there’s ambient lead in the environment. And so as has been told by these manufacturers, you can’t make lead-free dinnerware because there’s lead floating around in the air.
STEVEN GILBERT: That’s probably true, but the FDA is more concerned about lead leeching out of the dinnerware. And there was quite a problem about this a number of years ago where lead in pottery-based materials, like you mentioned the glaze is contaminated with lead because lead makes a great colorant. It’s really good in paint and dyes. It dries hard and very brightly. It really makes a great additive to paint, that’s why it keeps getting used as well as in glazes.
But the leeching out of lead from dishware is the big question. And most of the time, it’s not leeching out, but you really don’t want lead in your mouth through your dinnerware because we are using them as spoons. You are going to get some lead exposure that way. It’s really important to pay attention to that and to have the least amount of lead in your dinnerware and your home to reduce exposure.
DEBRA: And if you’re unsure about a glazed pottery-type dinnerware’s lead level, you can check it with various testing methods or you can just get clear glass dishware. Glassware does not have lead in it. And so that’s always safe, anytime you see that. But you know, I really wish that somebody would test all the different dinnerware and say which ones are safe. So that everyone won’t have to go and test them out for themselves.
STEVEN GILBERT: Another important thing to test are children’s toys. Some of the environmental groups have these XRF guns that let you easily test materials. You just point it at the product, material, or wall, and it gives you a reading of how much contaminants are present in it. They’re very efficient and fast.
Ask around in your local environmental group if they have lead XRF and some of the local health departments will also have this equipment to make lead testing very simple. This has been a huge change in our ability to monitor products with lead in them. It really helps to easily keep track to make sure they’re not just redistributing the lead.
One way it gets redistributed is our electronic products, which have a little bit of lead in them – some of the older televisions, in particular. It’s very important to recycle these stuff and make sure it’s going to a good recycler who’s going to be aware that the lead contamination is an important thing to deal with and disposed of properly, not being shipped overseas to be broken down by kids and contaminating the environment as well for children.
Lead contamination from old electronics is another source of lead exposure. Another one is that people will manufacture those fishing lures and lead wastes were used around the wheels of cars to balance wheels. They were just banned in Washington State.
But they will be collected off roadways where they fall off the roadways. So when you’re walking down road, look for the lead wheel ways. These will be smelted down by people to make bullets or fishing lures. This is another potential for contamination for lead in our home environment, all these important sources of lead. You really always have to be on the lookout for potential sources of lead exposure.
DEBRA: And they are very well-documented, so just go online and search on “sources of lead exposure” and they’ll all come up. So we have only about a minute left, is there anything else you’d like to say that you haven’t said? I know you’d probably have hours of it.
STEVEN GILBERT: I think the important thing for us to do is to watch for lead. It’s an environmental justice issue. And people that live along roadways or in old homes, really watch out for old homes and really try to sequester the lead. We’re trying to get our society to clean up their lead, we’re trying some court cases, trying to get the paint manufacturers to invest in lead removal from these old homes. It really is in older, dilapidated homes that end up with lead exposure.
The other thing is getting your young children tested for their blood lead levels. If they have high levels, find that source and eliminate it.
DEBRA: And can parents just ask the pediatrician to do those blood tests?
STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, you can ask pediatricians and it’s covered by Medicare and MedicAid. Yes, you can definitely do that. It’s much cheaper than it used to be. Definitely ask your pediatrician to test your young child for blood lead. They’re going to get a little bit of blood out of them that you can do with a finger prick, so it’s not too bad. It’s definitely worth it. If you find they have high blood lead, track down the source of that lead exposure.
DEBRA: Thank you very much for being with us.
STEVEN GILBERT: Thank you, Debra.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well.