Good news! More kids in Washington will be tested for lead exposure thanks to a lawsuit filed last year. Parents went to court to force Washington state’s Medicaid program to pay for lead testing for lower-income kids. And they won!
But the fact that we have to test kids for lead at all is a reminder of how broken our chemical laws really are.
The effects of lead exposure are well documented. Kids exposed to lead can have shorter attention spans, behavioral problems, and loss of IQ.
The biggest source of lead poisoning is paint in older homes. Nearly 14,000 kids in Washington could have undetected lead poisoning, according to the lawsuit. Uncovering a child’s lead exposure early will help avoid problems and ensure they can reach their full potential.
It was just a few decades ago that companies put lead in paint and gasoline because it was thought to be a good thing. Nobody thought to question the health and environmental impacts. Now we know better. The damage has been done and we’re still paying to clean up the mess.
We still haven’t learned our lesson. There are still very few laws in place to ensure that a chemical used in consumer products is safe. Toxic flame retardants, phthalates, stain-resistant chemicals are already on their way to being the next lead. Unless we do more to protect children’s health now, like pass the Toxic-Free Kids and Family Act to ban toxic flame retardants, we’ll be dealing with their health effects for decades to come.