In light of recent news about the poisoning of the water in black communities from Flint, MI to St. Joseph, Louisiana, we wanted to share the following article, This appears in “The Hood Health Handbook, Volume 2 and was authored by Dr. Supreme Understanding in 2010. Please share if it gives you some insight into our current crisis! – Tokeshia Stephens, SDP
By Dr. Supreme Understanding
(Pg. 116 Hood Health Vol. 2)
Lead affects the nervous system. That means brain damage. Reduction in IQ begins with lead levels as low as 7 ug/dl (micrograms per deciLiter of blood). Guess how much lead that means? Very little. It doesn’t take much at all.
Beyond intellectual impairment, researchers have also found that lead can stunt physical growth (at 1 ug/dL), contribute to ADHD symptoms (at 2 ug/dL), and even cause cavities (at 3 ug/dL). At higher levels, slow lead poisoning causes memory loss, mood swings, infertility, nerve, joint and muscle disorders, cardiovascular, skeletal, kidney and renal problems and possibly cancer.
More than 40% of American homes still have lead-based paint in them. But Black children are five times more likely than white children to suffer from lead poisoning, according to the CDC. Lead poisoning endangers the health of nearly 8 million inner-city children, mostly Black and Hispanic. As of 2003, nearly half (47%) of Black children ages 1 to 5 had blood lead levels in the range of 5 to 10 ug/dL, which corresponds to a loss of 4 to 7 IQ points. 19% of white children and 28% of Hispanic children fell in the same range. Among Black children in large cities, 36.7% have blood lead levels of above 10 ug/dl.
Lead has been connected to social problems as well. Boys with high amounts of lead in their bones had more reports of aggressive and delinquent behavior than boys with low levels, and that their behavior got worse over a period of time, regardless of social factors. Roger D. Masters, a proponent of the “neurotoxicity” theory, suggests exposure to toxic pollutants (specifically lead and manganese) may contribute to people committing violent crimes. U.S. counties with measures of neurotoxicity (lead, manganese, and alcohol) have violent crime three times the national average. According to Masters, “The presence of pollution is as big a factor as poverty.”
Recent studies supported by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences suggest that – in addition to lower IQ – a young person’s lead burden is linked to lower high school graduation rates and increased delinquency. The symptoms of slow lead poisoning were not fully recognized until the late 20th century. In 1973, the EPA began phasing out leaded gasoline, a process that took over twenty years. Lead was banned in household paint in 1978. As a result, lead levels in the blood of American children have dropped by 86% since the late 1970s. But if you understand the Black-white statistics above (as with any other negative situation), you know that Black people are still at a much higher level of risk than whites. In poor communities, most homes were built before 1978, so you’ve probably still got lead in your walls. And in poor communities, there’s lead in the water as well…right down to your child’s elementary school water fountain. I dare you to buy a test kit, make a school visit, and see for yourself. (See “Lead Poisoning: Abating Environmental Racism”)
- Your home has faucets or fittings made of brass which contains some lead
- Your home or water system has lead pipes, or your home has copper pipes with lead solder AND the home is less than 5 years old
- You have naturally soft water
- Water often sits in the pipes for several hours
To minimize the risk of lead in your walls you should:
- If you live in or are planning to buy a house built before 1978 have an inspector check it.
- If you discover lead in your home, consider covering over paint with wallpaper, paneling or a thick coat of new paint (make sure it is non-toxic paint!).
To minimize the risk of lead in drinking water you should:
- Use a water filtration system to remove pollutants.
- Flush your pipes. Don’t use water that has been sitting in your pipes over six hours. Only use water thoroughly flushed from the cold water tap. Flush until the water becomes as cold as it will get (this can take up to 2 minutes or longer). Once you’ve flushed a tap, fill a container and put it in the refrigerator for later use.
- Use only cold water for drinking, and especially for making baby formula.
- Never cook with or consume water from the hot-water tap. (Hot water dissolves lead more easily and is therefore more likely to contain higher levels of lead.)
- Have your water tested by a competent laboratory approved by your state or the EPA. (Your local or state department of environment or health should be able to tell you which labs are qualified.)
- If you want to test the water yourself, you can buy a test kit online for less than 15 bucks. Ain’t that worth the price of avoiding brain damage?
If you have a young child at home who is at risk for lead exposure, talk to your physician about having the child’s blood tested for lead levels.
For more information on lead toxicity, check out UPAL.org, visit the EPA website, or call the National Lead Information Center at 1(800) 424-LEAD
Get the Lead Out
You can remove toxic minerals from your body, and protect against taking them in by:
- Saturation. Eating a diet with a high level of a wide range of minerals, so your cells become saturated with minerals. Toxic minerals are then likely to be excreted rather than taken up.
- Chelation. Certain foods and drinks such as kombucha, coriander (cilantro) and seaweed actively draw a range of minerals to them, and pull them out of the body via excrement. Clay baths also have this effect.
- Antioxidants. A diet high in antioxidant nutrients and enzymes protects you from toxic minerals.
For details on the book this article comes from, visit The Hood Health Handbook Volume 2