Msnowe's Blog

Leaden Politics

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on August 27, 2007

Not surprising at all. The Bush appointees in the CDC and all other health-related offices seem to be interested in pushing legislation (or lack thereof) for every possible advantage – except the health of the general population. Women’s reproductive rights have been restricted due to “moral” thinking, and the rate of death in childbirth has actually risen in the past few years for American women due to a decrease in prenatal care. And now, another segment of the US population has something to fear from the regulations of this administration and it’s controversial appointees: children.

We like to think the government is looking out for us. When we find out that Chinese toys might have lead in them, we gasp at the possible affects. Yet, its understandable to many given China’s reputation in exporting dangerous goods every now and then, and complete crisis is averted by a recall. But Mattel recently saw a large recall of its toys due to lead as well.

Most agree that lead is highly toxic, and not a substance you would want lying around, or especially a part of your young children’s playthings. The phrase “did you eat paint chips as a kid?” didn’t earn it’s place in our list of insults for nothing. As funny as it is- it is also true. Many reputable and accepted studies show that lead concentrations in children can lead to lower IQ, seizures, and in extreme cases of exposure – comas. This isn’t a theory, it is an accepted scientific fact. Lead is unhealthy in the smallest of doses, and like cigarrette smoke, the best level of exposure is nill. In 1991, acceptable lead levels in the US were legislated down to 10 mcg/dl. This level, though lower than ever before, has shown to still lower IQs in exposed children in scientific studies. Many scientists, and people who have seen the numbers have been lobbying for a zero-tolerance policy for lead exposure fro years, especially for products that will inevitably come into contact with children.

And here comes the surprising response from the Bush administration. In 1982, Bush the First wanted the government to remove limits on gasoline which contained lead. Luckily, that bill did not pass. Economics was at the heart of this legislation, and especially the economics of big oil. But obviously, all the smaller industries that relied on lead use jumped on the bandwagon, and have been lobbying for lead-use rights ever since, regardless of the health cost to American children, who’s IQs points, once lost, are irrecoverable.

Thompson, Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, wanted to appoint Joyce Tsuji and William Banner to the Center for Disease Control’s lead advisory committee. Tsuji had worked for lead companies in the past, and Banner scarily claimed that levels of lead in children seven times the legal limit today would not produce any adverse affects. This is overwhelmingly untrue, and no respectable scientist would ever accept such numbers as safe. The scary part is that parents still aren’t getting the correct message – and those whose children had the lead-contaminated Mattel toys are being told that if their children have lead levels around 10 mcg/dl have nothing to worry about. And why should Mattel, or the government worry, really? If these children end up losing brain cells, and having lower IQs, how would the parents really know? Perhaps their children are just naturally less bright than others in their class. And what right do they have to sue, with the government saying the levels of lead in their blood are safe?

But you know, perhaps Bush Senior didn’t realize that allowing his son to play with lead-enriched gasoline, and snack on paint chips as a child would have such an adverse affect on the entire nation, years later.

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