Hello, MY NAME IS Tamara Rubin.  I am a Mother, wife, homeowner, business owner, landlord and voter.  I live with my husband and four sons in Portland Oregon.

Three years ago my children were poisoned by the work of a painting contractor who broke the law and charged us $18,000 for the privilege. 

To prepare our home in historic Irvington for painting he used pressure washing, dry scraping and open flame torch burning to remove the old lead paint.  He told us he was certified to safely handle lead paint, that he had been through the State training and he assured us that these were the safest methods.

He lied.  He was not certified, he had taken the courses and failed the exam.  He used the most dangerous methods possible.

Our children inhaled the lead fumes and became violently ill. 

We got a call late one night with the blood test results.  Our doctor told us that we needed to move out of our home immediately because our children had lead poisoning.

After we learned that our children had been poisoned, we hired an abatement contractor who (we later realized) followed lax protocols and told us it was safe for us to return home after they had completed their work.

They did no clearance testing- only a "white glove test" and assured us the home was now safe to live in.

When our children were poisoned again from the remaining toxic dust in our home -after we moved out again ( never to return) , we finally learned of clearance testing.

When we finally had the clearance testing done for areas that the abatement contractor assured us were safe... play areas for our children tested hot—extremely hot—1100 micrograms per square foot- nearly 30 times the level that is considered safe for a child.

It cost us more than $200,000 to decontaminate our home from the standard work practices of these contractors and it has left us nearly bankrupt and facing foreclosure.

Our financial distress pales in comparison to the permanent brain damage caused in two of our boys. They were left with severe behavioral problems, learning disabilities, sleep disorders and eating issues- not to mention being robbed of their full potential by diminishing their I.Q s

If any other professional had done this sort of damage -  if any other citizen had, whether through ignorance, incompetence or cynical disregard methodically engaged in illegal and dangerous behavior resulting in the predictable poisoning of my children—or acted as an accessory to their re-poisoning through egregious malpractice,… that individual would in all likelihood be in jail today.

But since enforcement of the laws to date has been nearly impossible and training of contractors has been limited, our contractors and hundreds others like them are committing these same crimes over and over again with impunity.

Increasing the numbers of trained contractors and the number of contractors who obey the law and use lead safe work practices, by allowing DHS to have oversight of training, enforcement and compliance will be one step in the right direction to make sure this does not happen to other children.

I would like to see this take Oregon on a path towards the models for training and enforcement that were set up in San Diego and are now being implemented on a local level by some of San Diego’s program staff in Washington D.C.

If we can reach a point where contractors need to be certified and violators face stiff penalties commensurate with the crimes they commit- we will see compliance. Fines for non-compliance should be very steep and can fund expansion of these programs.

While you may have heard that in Oregon this issue effects hundreds of children each year- please consider that this is a much bigger problem.  Lead poisoning actually effects many thousands of children in our state- but the demographic that is being poisoned is neither being tested nor counted.

Please understand - in the scientific community the CDC numbers (the number of children stated to be suffering from lead poisoning nationally) are seen for what they are: politically manipulated, gross underestimates - a product of the coercive atmosphere of "politically managed" science under the last administration.

Through a calculated manipulation of language "child" means only those between the ages of 1 and 5.   This excludes countless infants and older children that can still be horribly impacted by the effect of lead on their brains and bodies.  My youngest son was just 8 mos. old  when he was poisoned and by the current definition would not be counted in the official statistics.

Poisoned has also been defined only to include children with a BLL of 10 and above, even though current science has demonstrated that serious damage is done at much lower levels.  The NHANES data, are too narrow—by orders of magnitude—shaped to fit the funding priorities and the message that this problem is well in hand!  We will not meet the goal of eradicating childhood lead poisoning by 2010 – but the answer is not to dismiss it  and pretend the problem has been solved – the answer is to continue to address it by solving the problem – fostering an environment that  educates contractors, encourages and rewards lead-safe work practices and punishes and fines those who poison children.  This is best handled by taking the Federal guidelines set by the EPA and giving the power to implement and enforce those standards to local agencies like Oregon’s DHS.

Please take a look at my website for more information about our story and my hopes for the legislative changes that can be made to protect our children. My web address- mychildrenhaveleadpoisoning.com

In closing... Contractors need training, need oversight - standards need to be enforced and violators need to be fined or your child or grandchild niece or nephew could be one of the next ones poisoned.

This is just an introduction - I have lots of ideas about how to refine these laws to maximize their impact, efficiently leverage limited resources and achieve a significant permanent reduction in childhood lead poisoning, and would like to continue to be involved in this process if I can share our story and make a difference.  Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

This morning (3/4/2009) Len and I trekked down to Salem (with baby Charlie in tow) to testify before the legislature regarding the proposed oversight and enforcement of the EPA’s RRP Rule.  The goal is to get the program into the hands of the State of Oregon (apparently California is the only state currently that manages their program on this level)  - allowing Oregon to administer training, oversight and enforcement of the new Federal standards. Below is my testimony as I read it (points in bold that I wanted to make sure to say clearly (I always forget that “my name is” bit!)