Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get the Lead Out

A bunch of us at work were recently joking that a local industrial site with all sorts of chemicals leached into the ground from its previous use as a tannery was going to be re-used as a child care center. Sadly, there have been instances in the region of child-serving organizations that find out later that the former uses of the land they are operating on were similarly toxic.

But forget about past use; what about present use? Far too many orphanages in China, including the one where Jada spent her first seven and a half months, are located upwind of all sorts of emissions-belching plants in heavily industrial parts of the country. The particulates invariably accumulate on all surfaces, like wooden cribs that abandoned baby girls like to latch their mouths on.

Indeed, Jada's lead levels were so elevated that her first visit to the pediatrician in the US triggered an in-home evaluation by the health department of the City of Philadelphia. Thankfully, by her second visit to the pediatrician, her lead levels were back down to the "you don't have to worry anymore" range. But who knows what damage she suffered as a result of this early exposure. A personal reminder that land use is a pretty important thing for a locality to get right.
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