Let’s be really clear about this. Once a child ingests lead, whether from paint or water or some other source, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. It bullies its way into the red blood cells, where it begins a biochemical version of clipping wires and flipping switches, throwing off the efficient machinery of the cell. It interferes with mitochondria, the part of the cell structure responsible for producing energy. It disrupts the tree-like formation of dendrites, which conduct impulses to nerve cells. It disturbs the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers. And it interrupts the production of heme, the iron-rich pigment without which hemoglobin can’t do its job of carrying oxygen through the body.
This post originally appeared on Fortune.com.
It’s something no one wants to face, least of all Congress.
When Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testifies today before the Congressional committee investigating Flint’s water crisis, he’s likely to come under heavy criticism. As he should. It took his administration an unconscionably long time to acknowledge the gravity of the situation. But while Congress focuses on the acute situation in Flint, it must not lose sight of something far bigger: the chronic problem of lead in the rest of the country.
This post originally appeared on Beacon Broadside.
In the tragedy of Flint, Michigan’s lead poisoning crisis, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is one of the heroes. Last September, Hanna-Attisha, director of pediatric residency at Flint’s Hurley Children’s Hospital, stood up at a press conference and presented research suggesting that the city’s water supply was poisoning its children. The number of kids with elevated blood lead levels—five micrograms per deciliter or more—had doubled, she said, and in some neighborhoods, it had tripled.
The initial response to Hanna-Attisha from state officials was to dismiss her research outright and called her comments “unfortunate.” The experience was so upsetting it made her physically sick.
Embracing the teenage brain’s natural tendencies may help the process.
My oldest son is sixteen and a junior in high school. The other day we sat down with his college guidance counselor for the first time. Between that meeting and next December stretch months of thinking about college: visiting campuses, deciding where to apply, taking standardized tests, and assembling applications.
I am my family’s orchestrator-in-chief for the holidays and I am not ready. There’s always a last minute rush for me, but this year business trips and other obligations mean there’s no card yet, the tree got decorated yesterday and only a handful of gifts have been purchased. As I finally kick my efforts into gear, I can’t help but remember a recent December when things were very different.
The alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. on Christmas morning. I shook my husband awake. We tiptoed to the room where our three boys were sleeping, placed a small gift at the foot of each bed, and left a note ostensibly from Santa Claus.