Have You Been Injured By Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, usually over a long period of time. It can be difficult to decipher lead poison problems because many older homes and buildings have lead-based paint. Lead exposure affects nearly half a million children living in the U.S.. causing problems with concentration, thinking, and learning. In addition, lead can be in the air, soil, and water. Adults who work on home renovations, auto repair shops, or with batteries may also be exposed to lead.

Lead occurs naturally in the earth’s crust, but man has caused it to spread. This has happened because of mining, burning fossil fuels, and manufacturing. Lead was a key ingredient in paint until it was banned in 1978. It was banned for use in gasoline in the late 1980s.

Another common source of lead is in lead pipes, brass plumbing fixtures, and copper pipes. This can lead to lead particles being released into tap water. Lead solder in food cans is prohibited in the U.S., but it is still prevalent in some countries. Some traditional remedies contain lead, as well as traditional cosmetics. In 2012, the U.S. increased the permitted amount of lead in blood tests for children. Some believe that this puts children at risk, but overall, the number of children with lead poisoning is still reduced.

There are some indications that you or a loved one may have lead poisoning. The symptoms for children include irritability, weight loss, abdominal pain, learning difficulties, loss of appetite, sluggishness, fatigue, vomiting, and constipation. Newborns exposed to lead before birth may have slowed growth and learning difficulties. Symptoms in adults are quite different. They include muscular weakness, high blood pressure, decline in mental function, headache, miscarriage or premature birth, abdominal pain, mood disorders, memory loss, pain, numbness or tingling of extremities.

You can prevent lead poisoning by washing your hands, cleaning dusty surfaces, and running cold tap water through older water lines before using the water. Don’t remove lead paint by sanding as this will cause small lead particles to accumulate. Don’t remove old paint with an open-flame torch. If lead paint is sealed well on a wall or trim, you can paint over it.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been affected by lead poisoning in Arizona, you need to see a doctor. A simple test will determine blood lead levels. Children between the ages of 1 and 2 are required to be tested for lead poisoning.

 

Sources:

http://www.dhhs.state.nh.us/dphs/bchs/clpp/index.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lead-poisoning/FL00068/METHOD=print
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/lead-poisoning-rates-rise-in-us-after-cdc-lowers-blood-cutoff/

Identifying & Avoiding Lead Paint In Your Home Or Workplace

Lead paint was especially common in home construction in the 1950s, and was the primary type of paint used in homes and professional buildings until the end of the 1970s, according to the University of Illinois. Lead was utilized in sections of buildings that needed to be especially strong and durable, like windows, doors, and furniture, in addition to being an ingredient in paint.

How Is Lead Dangerous?

University of Illinois asserts that lead is dangerous to humans if the dust or residue from the paint or furniture finishers that contain lead are inhaled or ingested. Lead can cause nervous system damage. Pregnant women should stay away from lead, since the substance can lead to birth defects and lower IQ scores in children.

Children can also experience irritability, pain in the stomach and abdominal area, constipation, fatigue, and difficulty learning or concentrating if they are exposed to lead. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who come in contact with lead may have memory loss, weakness in the muscles, numbness in the limbs, and high blood pressure. Men are at risk for low sperm count or abnormal sperm function. If a person feels that he or she has been exposed to lead, a blood test can confirm this.

Lead Exposure Risk Factors

The Mayo Clinic shares that infants and toddlers are more likely to be exposed to lead, since they will often put paint chips in their mouths. A child’s immune system also absorbs lead debris more readily than the immune system of a teenager or adult.

People who live in and renovate homes that were built before the 1970s are also at risk for lead exposure. Even though the use of paint with lead has been prohibited since the 1970s, there may still be homes that contain residue of the paint.

Identifying Lead in a Building

A lead testing kit is the most accurate way to identify lead in an area; however, a home testing kit will sometimes fail to detect low lead levels. Spectroscopy is a more accurate way to determine if there is lead in your home or office, and how much of the substance is present. Specific training is needed for X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, so if you think you and your family or coworkers are being exposed to lead in the places where you live and work, it’s best to hire a trained lead testing professional for assistance.

Sources:
http://web.extension.illinois.edu/healthyair/leadpaint.cfm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lead-poisoning/FL00068

5 Highly Toxic Substances In Your Home Right Now

The Centers for Disease Control estimates there are 2 million poison exposures in the United States each year. A vast majority of these poisonings involve children under the age of six years. Our homes contain a number of toxic substances that we simply take for granted or do not realize the hazardous nature of the substance. The key to preventing accidental exposure to toxic substances is to know what can be dangerous and making sure the chance for exposure is minimized. Here is a look at the five most toxic substances may be in your home right now.

Medicine

Prescription and non-prescription drugs can be deadly if they are in the hands of a child. Narcotics are not the only medicines that can be dangerous. The best way to prevent medicine accidents is to lock them in a secure childproof case or to place them well out of the reach of children.

Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies are often a toxic brew of substances that range from acids to bases and everything in between. Many are life threatening if ingested and can cause skin irritation, eye irritation or even chemical burns. All cleaning fluids and supplies should be kept in one secure location in the home to prevent injury. They should also retain their original labels so the ingredients are clear.

Paint

We can never truly know the type of materials used in our home before we purchased it unless we built it ourselves. It is always good to assume that there could be hidden dangers such as lead paint or asbestos (in older homes). Always inspect paint on the walls and be sure to clean up any paint chips from cracking or peeling paint.

Drain Cleaner

Sodium hydroxide is the main ingredient in drain clearing agents. It is highly toxic in solid and liquid forms. Drain cleaner should be used in its entirety or kept in a very safe place with labels. It can cause serious irreversible poisoning and skin burns.

Pesticides

When you use ant traps, spray pesticides or have an exterminator visit your home it is prudent to be aware of the toxicity level in the pesticides being used. Whenever possible, try to use pesticides that are quickly broken down. If that is not possible, keep them well out of the reach of pets and children.

Sources:
http://www.epa.gov/kidshometour/toxic.htm
http://www.edf.org/health/where-are-toxic-chemicals-your-home

How Dangerous Is BPA? The Evidence So Far

BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical compound used to harden many types of plastic. It is most common in food containers and water bottles, and it is used to treat the outer shells of most canned goods. There has been much debate about the health concerns related to BPA.

The first scare began when it was discovered that BPA can leech from plastics or cans into the food or water they contain. Once ingested, this chemical may cause issues in the brain, endocrine system, and reproductive organs. Children were found to be especially at risk. This caused an uproar that convinced the major manufacturers of children’s toys, baby bottles, and other infant devices to stop using BPA in their plastics.

The Health Risks of BPA

BPA exposure may cause a variety of health risks. Again, many of these risks are currently unproven in humans and based only on theoretical or animal studies.

Hormones:
BPA may act like a hormone on the body. This will disrupt normal hormone function and can lead to a variety of growth and behavior issues.

Cancer:
Some studies have linked higher levels of BPA to an increased risk of cancer. This is unsurprising, considering that any foreign chemical in the body generally leads to increased risk of cancer.

Brain and Other Conditions:
BPA exposure has a weak link to a variety of other problems, including ADHD and other neurologic disorders.

The Current Stance

The FDA has formally issued a statement that BPA is not harmful to humans at its present levels, but this does not mean that it is completely harmless. The facts also indicate that BPA tends to stick around once it is in your body. This means that as you are exposed to BPA over time, you will end up with more and more in your body.

Due to the pervasiveness of BPA in our environment, the government has begun to take greater strides to regulate it in products. A recent act, The Ban on Poisonous Additives Act, has been reintroduced to Congress. This act would regulate chemicals such as BPA that have very slow-acting effects on the body and would require periodic re-examinations of products currently considered safe by the FDA. This will ensure that investigation into BPA continues so that its long-term health risks can be better understood. It will also ensure that if a greater threat from BPA is discovered it will be easier to take action to regulate it.

Minimizing Exposure

Although there is not enough conclusive evidence to confirm that BPA is harmful, experts do recommend taking some basic steps to reduce BPA exposure, especially in children, in order to limit the buildup of the chemical in the body. Avoid foods in cans or stored in plastic containers. Aim for glass or ceramic containers instead. Avoid heating plastics or cans as this can increase the leeching of BPA. Do not use plastics over the long term. Leeching increases as the plastics age and wear. Recycle water bottles or food containers after several uses.

Sources

http://children.webmd.com/environmental-exposure-head2toe/bpa
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bpa/AN01955

Federal Trial Set for Ex-BP Engineer

A U.S. District Court will hear the case of United States vs. Mix beginning on June 10, in the Eastern District of Louisiana. This will be the first criminal trial resulting from the BP spill.

BP has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of criminal charges related to the spill. However, Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, has pleaded not guilty. Mix has been charged with two counts of obstructing justice alleging he deleted text-message strings from his mobile phone related to the company’s efforts to estimate the size of the spill. Mix was supposed to provide information to a sub-committee of Congress, however now the government has accused him of providing false, misleading, or wrong information.

Immediately after the drilling rig disaster, one of the main concerns was how fast the oil was flowing out of the well. Mix and others were responsible for reporting this flow-rate to the government, which proved to be a very difficult task. The gushing well was more than 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Kurt Mix created models that showed possible flow rates between 64,000 and 110,000 barrels a day. BP’s first effort to stop the flow was called “Top Kill” which proved to be a failure. Mix and his lawyers argue that it was not possible to know that Top Kill would fail. The government, however, will argue that BP’s experts did know it would fail.

The flow rate reports are at the center of the disagreement. The government does not believe that Mix and other BP representatives told the Congressional subcommittee the truth in May of 2010. The government argues that Mix was doing wrong when he deleted two strings of text messages related to his work determining the flow-rate. One text discussion was with a contractor; the others were between Mix and his supervisor.

Other BP officials will also go to trial this year, including two well-site managers charged with involuntary manslaughter along with obstruction of justice for not providing the government with accurate flow-rate reports.

Mix says that he did not destroy any evidence related to flow-rates. He claims that the voice and text messages he deleted were not relevant. Mix points to a clear record of the flow rate models he created for the Congressional subcommittee.

Mix and his lawyers countered that the government’s lawyers have not handed over Brady Material as they should have. Brady Material, generally, is any evidence that the prosecution has that might be useful to the defendant for reducing the punishment or establishing innocence. In this case, Mix’s lawyers asked the judge to require the government to turn over any evidence that could prove helpful in Mix’s case. The judge ordered the government to give Mix and his lawyers more than 400 pieces of evidence, including FBI interviews of witnesses.

Related Resources:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-14/ex-bp-engineer-says-u-s-withheld-evidence-in-spill-case.html
http://definitions.uslegal.com/b/brady-material/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2013/03/28/fmr-bp-engineer-kurt-mix-still-deleting-stuff-govt-alledges/
http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/