July 4, 2009 - Sorry to rain on your parade: drinking hoses, sparklers, fireworks and water balloons...

Each holiday  - in the World of Lead (lead poisoning advocate blogs, bulletin boards and conversations) one is reminded of the concern of the moment.

This moment’s concern: Lead poisoning is known as a summer disease (perhaps as “the” summer disease.)  There are many new sources of lead in the summer, including water from drinking hoses and smoke from fireworks and inhaled smoke from “innocuous” sparklers given to the youngest of children.

In this time we must not forget that the main reason for lead poisoning to have earned the title “summer disease” is because of all of the home renovations happening in the summer and the sanding, torch burning, dry scraping, pressure washing and other mishandling of peeling lead paint on older homes that are having their exterior (and interior) surfaces prepared for painting  - because of the lovely weather, which allows quick drying time and even curing of the new paint that will be applied after the old, toxic lead paint has been “removed.”

This is not said to diminish the concern over those other sources (in my headline) - up until recently I was excited every year to get my kids fireworks! (yes ME  - even ME... I did not realize the concern for leaded smoke from fireworks and sparklers.) There was a conversation online about it  - but even then it did not hit home.  It was not until I saw the recent Woody Allen movie - Vicky, Christina, Barcelona - with the scene of the girl walking past CLOUDS of smoke where children were playing within the cloud of smoke and sparks caused by sparklers as part of a celebration.  The scene haunts me to this day.  Did Woody Allen even consider that he might be poisoning the children employed as extras in that film when he decided to have a backdrop of squealing children and sparkler smoke featured prominently in order to create ambiance?  And really the concern is what all of the children across America are going to be doing today.

Please watch your kids, keep them away from the smoke (if possible).. You knew to keep them away from the flames and the explosions... but did you even consider keeping them away from the smoke? That it could be the source of brain damage, learning disabilities and Autism-like symptoms?

Garden hoses are also potentially toxic - especially that first dose of warm water that has been sitting in the hose between uses.  Most garden hoses contain lead (hence the prop 65 warning) and are not safe to use for drinking.  The lead helps to keep the plastic supple.  So please consider this concern if you are about to  1. drink from the hose, 2. fill your kiddie pool, 3. water your vegetables, etc.   There are some hoses you can buy at a regular store that do not contain any lead and have a label to that effect.  While I don’t always trust labels (look at all of the “lead free” jewelry recently that was determined to have high levels of lead) purchasing a “lead-free” hose/ staying away from hoses with a prop 65 warning for dangerous chemicals is a place to start.

A very smart suggestion came across lead-net recently... get a hose intended for marine use! These are hoses sold specifically for use on recreational sailing vehicles and they must be safe for carrying potable water.  They are marked that they are for drinking water or that they are “lead’free” or “lead safe.” As soon as we have some money I am going to go out and get one myself!  As always be a prudent shopper and realize the standards for “lead-free” and “lead-safe” are set by the government, which is influenced by industry  - so there may still be some trace-lead or “background acceptable level of lead” and you have to make the choice if that is acceptable or not for you and your family.  But again - it’s a good place to start.

On a lighter note... in my “test everything in the house” experiment several months ago (for which I still have to post the results) one of the things I tested was water balloons - they kind you buy in the grocery store/ 50 to a pack.  The ones I tested tested lead-free with a Niton XRF machine, not a trace of lead to be concerned about... my little consolation prize for the day (just wonder about where you are going to fill them up!)

Have a great and safe holiday and please remember to protect your children always.

Tamara Rubin

(I will post links to articles to support the above statements as soon as I have a moment)
leadsafe@mac.com

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