Monday, May 17, 2010

Get the lead out!

Oh, boy. There has been so much in the news of late regarding education that I hardly know where to start, so today I will just add a short post while I am digesting all the rest.

The Sunday Detroit Free Press reported on the first extensive study of serum lead levels of the city’s children and how that correlates with academic achievement. The contamination is more widespread and the connection stronger than even pessimists had thought.

“A landmark study by the city health department and Detroit Public Schools of lead data and test scores shows that the higher the lead level, the worse a student’s scores on the MEAP.

“Overall, 58% of roughly 39,000 DPS students tested — 22,755 children — had a history of lead poisoning. Perhaps more startling: Of the 39,199 students tested as young children, only 23 had no lead in their bodies.” [emphasis added]

That’s not 23 percent — only 23 individual children of more than 39,000 tested were lead-free. That's less than 0.059%. I know that dust from lead-based paint is part of the problem, but so is contaminated soil in a city that was until recently filled with heavy industry (including such notorious offenders as smelters). Just breathing the air and playing in the dirt can be hazardous to their health.

The younger a child is, the more susceptible s/he is to neurological damage from toxins, and the damage can permanently affect learning, memory, attention, and behavior. Other studies from Duke and Wayne State Universities have documented a correlation between lead levels and both IQs and reading levels.

Of course, there are other factors at play, but why would we let this unnecessary one continue to hobble our children?

1 comment :

  1. Holy crap! I think of lead poisoning the way I do a out the effects of asbestos poisoning - these problems were identified a generation ago. And solved. Once again, rich people don't encounter lead so we don't care. No lead dust in my backyard.