Baby Amelia’s Story
By Mama Stephanie
Our daughter Amelia was lead poisoned by our NE Portland home. In August 2014, our landlord wanted to apply for a lead remediation grant to repaint the exterior of our house. We went to the doctor for a routine visit and had a lead test done; we didn’t think anything of it—it was a quick heel poke and we were on our way. A few days later we got the call that our daughter had a blood lead level of 6. There is no safe level of lead in a baby’s body; anything over a 5 is considered “Lead Poisoned”. We had to go in for a second blood draw, which confirmed our fears: our daughter had lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause a host of issues—permanent brain damage, ADHD, behavioral issues, organ function problems, among many others (we won’t begin to truly see the full impact of Amelia’s poisoning until she is school-aged.) [Editor’s note: scientists tell us that with childhood lead poisoning, some effects—like the impact on “Executive Function“—can’t be fully assessed until even on into the twenties, when the human brain’s vital, last-to-develop structure – the frontal lobe – is complete!]
We were immediately contacted by the Multnomah County Health Department. They performed an inspection of our home and tests identified several lead contaminated surfaces. The HUD guideline for maximum lead level in a windowsill is 250 ppm. Our windowsill tested 14,000ppm!!! Every time we opened our old windows the friction created (lead-contaminated) dust. Amelia did not eat any lead paint chips—she was poisoned by dust. Lead is heavy, so it falls to the floor; the dust settled on the floors and surfaces that our baby crawled and played on. All of our area rugs had to be discarded. Our vacuum cleaner is ruined. All her toys had to be thoroughly cleaned or thrown away. They also discovered that our soil was above the federal guidelines, which means our dogs and our feet were tracking in additional lead!
The Portland Housing Bureau did a second inspection in conjunction with the lead remediation grant application process. The results were not good: every surface they tested was positive for lead…every wall, window, nook and cranny. The floors our baby played on—and even our old bathtub!! The porcelain in our bathtub is leeching lead! At this point we are waiting to hear if we qualify for assistance through HUD’s relocation assistance programs. I’m looking for work and Matt is picking up all the hours he can.
We were put in touch with Tamara Rubin of the Lead Safe America Foundation. Her help has been invaluable! We don’t know what we would have done without her guidance and support. We learned that we are not alone in this. The word needs to be spread about lead poisoning. Especially in neighborhoods with older homes. Tamara and her foundation are doing fantastic work—and their documentary film, MisLead: America’s Secret Epidemic is amazing! [ www.misleadmovie.com , www.leadsafeamerica.org ] –
On October 7th 2014, our little family was forced to move. Unfortunately, Portland’s housing market has EXPLODED since we moved into our old house in 2012; we had to move to the complete opposite end of town. We are practically in another city at this point. We are approximately 30 minutes from the neighborhood we called home for the last 4 years. The new apartment is great, but it is also $400 more than what we were paying before. I am a stay at home mom, and pick up babysitting jobs here and there to help make ends meet. Matt is our sole income, and with student loans and various other bills on top of the increased rent, we are feeling pretty worried. I’m looking for work as we speak, but the 1st of the month is looming and I’m not sure how I’ll pull together the money that we need in time. I am trying to be positive and trust that everything will work out.
If you are able, we would graciously accept any donations. We are hoping to replace our belongings that we have lost during this ordeal and help cushion our transition while I look for work.
We are so grateful for all your kindness.
The Linares Family
Matt, Stephanie & Amelia
Please make a tax-deductible donation below in support of Amelia and her family. Our goal for this family is $4,800 – just enough to cover the difference in rent for one year – which will hopefully give them the opportunity to get back on their feet as Amelia recovers from being lead-poisoned.
We will post updates with funds raised here – as they are donated.
$0 donated so far • Friday, October 17, 2014 – 4:53 pm
GOAL: $4,800 towards moving/ relocation costs
THIS PAGE IS UPDATED MANUALLY EVERY FEW DAYS, AS DONATIONS COME IN.
Sorry that the updating of this list is not automated in any way.
You should receive a PayPal receipt for your donation via email as soon as you make the donation.
Your official thank you letter (for your taxes) will be sent via snail mail shortly.
Everyone who donates will also get FREE lead-paint tests kits to test their home or give away in their community (when we send them their thank you letter for their donation.) As we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit – contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.
*Please note: It can take 3 weeks to 3 months for us to allocate the funds to help any particular family, depending on how they choose to allocate the resources/ board approval of their choice and vendors they choose to use. Payments of designated funds are made directly to vendors and not to the family personally.