I just read this story over at Daily Kos, and I was really grateful that someone took the time to actually go through some of the legislative records of Clinton and Obama, particularly to see, in fact, whether Obama is the lightweight that he is made out to be. I am relieved to know more about what he’s gotten done. Especially since I still don’t know who I am voting for on Tuesday.
However, author Grassroots Mom might as well have pinched my sciatic nerve with tweezers as made her argument that Obama is more visionary because he initiated legislation against lead paint in toys, while Hillary introduced some to help give tax incentives to landlords to fund the clean-up of lead paint in older houses.
I’m not disputing or advocating for Obama’s visionary-ness, but this particular argument for it upset me, because it includes some dangerous assumptions. Plus, I just think it’s terribly important to broaden awareness about this issue, and this gives me an opportunity to do so.
Toxic toys are shocking by nature, and should absolutely be legislated out of our homes because of the dangers they pose. But they pose a fraction of the threat to children that lead paint in older homes (specifically any home built before 1978) does.
I know because I have had the unfortunate need to speak to more than one public health official in recent years about this. I can tell you that they are glad that the public is up in arms over toys with lead-based paint and that measures are being taken to do more safety screening of imported goods. But they wish that issue could be leveraged into greater awareness of the larger risks that exist all around us.
Of the children that they encounter who have elevated lead levels in their blood or lead poisoning, the overwhelming majority are still getting sick from older homes. And they aren’t just the homes in the inner city by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the worst cases exist in suburbs and historic neighborhoods with beautiful older houses where windows have never been upgraded, or proper clean-up has never been done. (Lead dust is much finer and heavier than other dust, and does not come up with an ordinary vacuum.)
Because I love you and I don’t want your, or anyone’s, children to get sick (and I don’t want to see other parents wracked with the guilt and fear the way I was because of the things I didn’t know), I wrote more about this important environmental issue here on Blog Action Day last fall. At some point, I will write more about our family’s experience.
Incidentally, like Clinton, Barack Obama does have a strong stance on lead paint and abatement standards in homes.