Biggest story of 2006 lost in Plain Dealering: Lead Poisoning is the #1 story in Northeast Ohio in 2006

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 12/31/2006 - 15:57.

Lead Poison Rates by City

Source: Environmental Health Watch 

There can be no doubt something is amiss with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. For all their Year In Review columns, on this last print-day of 2006, they completely passed over the most important news story in Northeast Ohio in 2006, being the excellent work of many Northeast Ohio leaders at area foundations, schools, hospitals, universities, non-profits and city, county and federal government departments to accelerate a regional attack on the lead poisoning crisis in our aging community, through the nationally recognized Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC) and Concerned Citizens Organized Against Lead (CCOAL), and, most significantly, the fact that East Cleveland and then Toledo, Lancaster, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati and Canton entered litigation against Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams and other paint companies that manufactured the lead paint poisoning out children. I find this almost amusing, in that what the PD did feature as one of their end of year editorials is "Redirecting Delinquents" seeking understanding of the large numbers of juvenile delinquents in our urban core, which research shows is a direct result of lead poisoning and other pollution. Yet, the PD has not informed the public here about the connection between lead poisoning, pollution and crime... while a 2006 Cincinnati Enquirer special report on lead poisoning reported research has found: "juvenile delinquents are five times more likely than other children to have elevated lead levels." Also: "Lead exposure in early childhood may have played an important role in the national epidemic of violent crime in the late 20th century." So, in our local mainstream newspaper, the fact that some company in Mass. stopped making plastic pink flamingos made "2006: A Year in Review", multi-billion-dollar litigation against one of Ohio's largest companies, and the smart investment of the St. Luke's Foundation and the hard work of 1,000s fighting our greatest health, economic, education and crime crisis, was covered-up. What's with that? Corruption! To learn more, I strongly suggest you read the article from Crime Times included below, showing how "a body of converging evidence implicates toxic heavy metals as culprits in America's epidemic of violent crime", which actually has valid recommendations for solutions:


When different scientists using different approaches reach similar conclusions, it's called "converging evidence"-and it excites researchers, because it's the best confirmation of a scientific hypothesis. According to Roger Masters and colleagues, such a body of converging evidence implicates toxic heavy metals as culprits in America's epidemic of violent crime.

Masters and colleagues theorize that "environmental pollution interacts with poverty, poor diet, alcohol or drug use, and social stress to put some individuals at risk for sub-clinical toxicity, leading to a loss of impulse control and increased violent crime."

Scientific support for the heavy metal/crime link, the researchers say, comes from five different types of research

1. CORRELATION: are violent criminals more likely to have high levels of toxic metals than non-criminals?

Masters and colleagues say seven studies of prison inmates all found that hair levels of either manganese or lead and cadmium were significantly higher in violent offenders than in non-violent offenders or controls. "Equally interesting," the researchers say, "is the fact that lithium, which has been found to detoxify manganese, was abnormally low in two of the seven samples."

Masters et al. add that research strongly links sub-clinical lead poisoning to learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder-both risk factors for deviant behavior (See related articles, Crime Times, Vol. 1, No. 3, Page 4; Vol. 2, No. 2, Page 1; Vol. 2, No. 4, Page 7). Furthermore, they say, "extreme concentrations of manganese have also been associated with violence in environments with mining operations or industrial exposure."

2. PREDICTION: are children with high toxin levels at increased risk for criminal behavior in later life?

In two studies of lead, Masters et al. note, "lead uptake at age 7 was significantly predictive of juvenile delinquency or increased aggression in teenage years and early adulthood."

The largest and longest prospective study of toxins' effects on behavior, the researchers say, was a longitudinal study of 1,000 black Philadelphia residents, studied from birth to age 22. This study, Masters et al. say, found that "both lead intoxication and anemia at age 7 were significant predictors of the number of juvenile offenses, seriousness of juvenile offenses and number of adult offenses for males."

3. FUNCTION: could toxins' biological effects lead to criminal behavior?

Masters et al. say studies show that toxins can affect both the structure of the developing brain, and the function of neurotransmitters-the brain's "messenger" chemicals. "Of particular importance," they say, "may be synergistic interactions between elements whose toxicity is greatly multiplied when they are combined." Among the many proven neurotoxic effects of heavy metals:

  • Excess lead in the brain damages cells called glia, which help detoxify harmful substances and are critical in behavioral inhibition.
  • Excess copper in the neonatal brain is associated with abnormal development of the hippocampus, a brain structure that plays a critical role in learning.
  • Excess manganese reduces brain levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, while increasing serotonin concentrations elsewhere in the body. Both human and animal studies link low brain serotonin to impulsive violence, and altered dopamine levels are implicated in a wide range of aberrant behavior.

4. TRANSMISSION: are criminals likely to be exposed to toxins?

Despite the bans on leaded gasoline and paint, studies reveal high levels of lead in the soil along heavily traveled urban automobile corridors. Additional sources of lead and other toxic heavy metals include industrial plants, aging public water systems, water pipes within homes, and leaded paint in older homes.

Children are particularly susceptible to these toxins, Masters et al. say, because they absorb up to 50% of the lead they ingest (as compared to 8% for adults), and because their brains are still developing. Infant formulas also affect manganese levels: laboratory studies show that cellular uptake of manganese from cow's-milk formula is five times greater than from mother's milk, and the uptake from soy formula is 20 times greater. Thus, the researchers say, the practice of bottle- feeding-much more popular among poor, uneducated mothers than among wealthier mothers-"greatly increases the infant's exposure to toxicity."

  Research also shows that nutritional deficiencies exacerbate the effects of toxins. "For example," Masters et al. note, "laboratory animals whose diet included excess manganese did not absorb it when calcium levels were normal, whereas manganese uptake became significant when their diet was deficient in calcium." Studies show that black teenage males consume only about two-thirds as much calcium as whites, and that calcium intakes of Hispanics, and of black women of child- bearing age, also are far lower than the white average. "Given the increased uptake of neurotoxic metals associated with calcium deficiencies in laboratory studies," the researchers say, "calcium deficits among the poor may have particularly deleterious effects during infant development and childhood."

The effects of toxins, the researchers add, are magnified by alcohol. "As a result," the researchers say, "the combination of alcohol consumption and poor diets, often found in marginal young males, puts them at particular risk."

5. ECOLOGY: do areas with high pollution levels have more crime?

If heavy metals and violent crime are associated, Masters et al. say, "ecological measures of environmental pollution, controlling for other variables, should correlate with higher rates of violent crime." And indeed, Masters' research shows a strong relationship.

Masters et al. created a dataset of all U.S. counties, integrating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory for lead and manganese, crime reports from the FBI, alcoholism statistics from the federal government, and socioeconomic and demographic data from the Census Bureau. "Controlling for such conventional factors as income, population density, and ethnic composition," the researchers say, "environmental pollution had an independent effect on rates of violent crime."

Furthermore, the researchers say, counties with industrial lead pollution, industrial manganese releases, and higher than average rates of alcoholism "have rates of violent crime over three times that of the national average."

The converging evidence linking heavy metal pollution to criminal behavior, Masters et al. say, may point crime prevention efforts in new and more productive directions. Among the approaches they suggest:

  • Give parents nutrition training, and encourage breast feeding.
  • Encourage vitamin supplementation for children, and particularly for those at serious risk of deficiency.
  • Ensure that preschool programs provide good diets in addition to good educational programs.
  • Identify the precise biochemical imbalances from which criminal offenders suffer, and treat these imbalances as part of their rehabilitation program.
  • Place greater emphasis on reducing existing pollution-and preventing future threats to the environment. "One issue of immediate importance," they say, "is posed by MMT, the manganese-based gasoline additive," recently banned in Canada but still allowed for use in the United States (see related article, Crime Times, Vol. 2, No. 2, Page 3).

Masters et al. stress that "neurotoxicity is only one cause among many, at most functioning as a catalyst which, in addition to poverty, social stress, alcohol or drug abuse, individual character, and other social factors, increases the likelihood that an individual will commit a violent crime." But reducing even this one risk among many is an important goal, they say, "given the extraordinary level of violence that persists in urban America and the failure of traditional policies to meet it."

Masters, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research and Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, is currently investigating possible relationships between lead, water fluoridation, and behavior. Crime Times will inform readers about the results of this research as they become available.




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giving lead to the kids

This is fascinating and while clicking through, I found that President Bush plans (that was in 2004 so maybe he already did) to cut the budget for this issue. Here's a quote  from the Toledo Blade:
"If funding for the program is cut, more children will be left behind due to the effects of lead poisoning, which diminishes the ability to think, concentrate, and make progress in school," said Emil Parker, director of the health division of the Children's Defense Fund.

At issue is funding for the federal Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This year the program has a budget of $174 million, most of which is given out in grants for lead "abatement" efforts.

The HUD program is the main national vehicle for eliminating lead paint hazards in private housing, the most common cause of childhood lead poisoning. An estimated 39 million U.S. homes contain lead paint; 25 million of those homes have significant lead hazards, said Don Ryan, executive director of the Alliance for Healthy Housing.

HUD leaders have said their goal is to eliminate childhood lead poisoning by 2010. In HUD's proposed fiscal 2005 budget, Bush administration officials said the Lead Hazard Control program is "the central element of the President's effort to eradicate childhood lead-paint poisoning."

Still, Mr. Bush recommended only $139 million for the program for fiscal 2005. HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan noted that that was more than the $136 million Mr. Bush requested for this year, but acknowledged that it was far less than the $174 million approved by Congress.

Mr. Sullivan said HUD officials would not be upset if Congress decided to increase the President's proposed $139 million for fiscal 2005, which begins Oct. 1.

"When Congress gives us more money, we're not going to turn it down," he said. Mr. Bush also proposed a decrease in the budget of the Lead Risk Prevention Program, which is part of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Bush's proposal would cut funding for the program from $15 million to $11 million."

I also read that Power Puff Girls necklaces are being recalled because of their lead content and the danger they pose to children. I wonder what toys I had as a child that contained high levels of lead… Here’s an interesting haz-map of lead hazardous materials.


Clearly we need to begin recalling many poison substances from our children’s diets and environments, such as high concentrations of antibiotics (some of which they may need in the future to fight off diseases unearthed by our constant rearrangement and importation of foreign environments) and lawn chemicals which according to my healer friends are wrecking havoc with breathing (causing asthma and allergies) in kids and adults. Mayor Jackson and the PD should be coming out guns blazing on this one. Instead I agree with you that it does reek of some inside hush money scandal. If only there was a light we could shine on it that would make the lead visible to everyone… Instead this poison’s threat is both invisible and mute in our community.

Plain Dealer should follow this advice...

One of the most powerful ways to communicate the harm of lead in our community is through hard numbers. Today the PD published a feature article on flooding in our region in 2006 (which they blame on two once-in-1,000-year rainstorms, which is funny), and they show a graphic of all the homes flooded. Well, the Cincinnati Enquirer published a list of all the addresses in their community where children were lead poisoned, and the PD should do this for here, with a nice map of each address like they used for flooding - the data is available from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health so the PD will barely have to lift a finger. Then they can go to Environmental Health Watch, or just visit their website, and pick up some other statistics on %ages of populations poisoned beyond what is shown in historical data, and questionable federal guidelines... they should be sure to talk with Stuart Greenberg, Executive Director. Then they can get in touch with Dr. Lanpheare at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and Dr. Masters at Dartmouth College, and Dr. Dearborn at University Hospitals and Dr. Whitehouse at Case Medical School to become educated about the harm of lead poisoning on humans, young and old. And, to learn more about what community leaders in Northeast Ohio are doing about the cirsis, they should talk to Leah Gary, VP for Program and Evaluation at the St. Luke's Foundation, who is administering the funding for the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC). Then, the PD should get together with all their "media partners", like Clear Channel and the TV stations, and make lead eradication their #1 priority for 2007 - that would make a huge difference, and may even benefit their friends at Sherwin Williams and Jones Day, as we will be solving more of the problem, leaving less for them to clean up as more litigation goes against them.

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workers, know your rights

It occurred to me when reading in the PD that the West 3rd Street lift bridge will be closed in April and May for painting, that I had read that red lead is still used for painting ships, trains and bridges. I thought, hmmmm… we should be careful in that area when they are painting there. If they scrape lead paint off, do they just let it fall in the river?


Then I thought about those painters that will be under that tarp breathing that stuff and bringing it home on their clothes.


Then I thought about all the construction that is going on and set to go on in the region...

And I thought workers should have some rights regarding this lead exposure.
Here they are: OSHA Lead Regulation


Then I thought about all those lead exposed workers rising up and filing claims and all those beleaguered lawyers.  


I was talking with Bill MacDermott about sources of lead in the environment and he pointed out that in addition to ongoing industrial use of lead paint there are millions of miles of lead paint marking our roadways across America, and that all day every day millions of cars wear that down and it ends up in our water... yup, those dotted yellow lines are lead... more on lead sources below, linked here

  • Leaded paint debris from uncontained dispersive paint removal or from flaking, chalking or peeling exterior pre-1970 residential paint and paint of any age that is industrial, marine, automotive, or from farm machinery
  • Leaded slag waste when smelter slag is used as the abrasive blast material for removal of surface coatings - this slag is also likely to contain arsenic, mercury, cadmium, zinc and copper in hazardous quantities
  • Lead contaminated soil washed into drains during rain, remediation or landscaping
    Wheel weights which fall off vehicles and end up in stormwater at an alarming rate
  • Vehicles
  • Leaded waste from the burning of vehicles, fireworks and other items in gutters etc
  • Spillage of lead-contaminated wastes / leaded products (eg pigment) being transported
  • Yellow and white road marking paints used in car-parks, streets, buildings, etc
  • Sewage overflows. Sewage is contaminated with lead from people cleaning their properties and from industrial sources.
  • Building cavity dust and other demolition waste from buildings and structures

Very different goals for 2010

It is interesting that the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC) and others pursuing lead hazard eradication around America target 2010 as the year we want to have solved this problem - at the opposite extreme of social consciousness, the history of Sherwin-Williams paint company promotes a campaign called "10 for 10" pursuing doubling sales of their products from about $5 billion in 2003 to $10 billion by 2010, to benefit customers, employees and stakeholders, in their ongoing pusuit to "Cover the Earth" in paint. It would seem there is room in that $10 billion for Sherwin-Williams to, between now and 2010, help eradicate the hazard of lead paint in our communities so all people on Earth may live happy, healthy lives. Obviously, all that lead eradication means covering the hazards with new paint, which will be a big part of Sherwin-Williams reaching $10 billion in sales, so this is just good business.

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