There is much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over lead in water pipes poisoning children, just as there was much ado about lead in gasoline years ago.
Rightly so – but not enough.
There has been inordinate focus on children eating paint chips, which they mostly weren’t doing, and not enough on lead in common areas, which should mean it’s everyone’s responsibility, but has so far meant it was no-one’s. For there is lead in the dirt of the country, mainly at sites where refineries and gas stations used to be; every warm season kids and others stir up this contaminated dust, and the vicious cycle begins anew.
And there are thousands if not millions of candles sold which flare green or other weird colors when lit, which too often indicate they were made where quality control is limited or non-existent. These colors are a warning that they likely contain lead or other heavy metals in the wicks, and none of which should be going into our air or lungs.
Christmas tree lights now carry the universal and contrary-to-the-season’s-spirit warning tags to wash one’s hands thoroughly when finished handling – because there’s lead! Why is there lead on strings of lights? — as a flame retardant and to keep the PVC plastic coverings from cracking. Ugh! Electrical cords with more than 300 parts of lead per million must have a warning tag. That is still too high.
Where is the clarion call to clean up the soil so it can again grow our food, and for the manufacture of tainted lights and candles to cease?
If our country truly cared about the problems lead causes, we would talk not only about replacing crumbling water pipes, we would bite the bullet (no pun intended, but firing ranges have to be shut and cleaned regularly because the lead is not only dust that settles, but airborne) and pay for soil remediation, estimated to run $10 billion a year for 10 years. It would take time and money, but we would reap the benefits of less crime and better students, for their brains would no longer be leaden.
Why don’t politicians agree this is a problem worth tackling, and money worth spending?