To help this family with a designated donation please click HERE or on the link below.
Update 3/10/2015, 10:30 a.m.
More than $550 has been donated to help this family. An anonymous donor has offered to help them with the work on their home. The hazard assessment has been done and we are awaiting bids from several contractors so that the family can begin the work on their home a.s.a.p.
Update: 1/23/15, 11 p.m.
$450 has been donated to help this family so far! Thanks to: Krista (CA), Bret (CA), Jana (TX), Sherry (WA), Jennifer (MN), Aniko (WA), Trisia (FL) & Anonymous! We’re working on scheduling a hazard assessment for their home as I write this!
January 20, 2015
Written by Mama Lisa
My biggest fear is that we continue to live in a home that is toxic and irreversibly damaging my young children’s development.
My name is Lisa York, and I am the lucky mother of two rambunctious boys, ages 20 months and 3 1/2. My husband, JJ and I followed the typical pattern: met, married, bought a house, had kids. We were elated to have found a little 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house in our price range that has a huge back yard. In 2007 we put our life savings into a 1951 single level starter home. We moved in, and later that year miscarried our twins early on in the pregnancy. We did not conceive again until 2010 and in June 2011 welcomed our first son, Zane. Early on I knew that something was amiss, as I am a sensory integration pediatric occupational therapist and recognized the signs. He struggles with sensory processing, modulation, fine motor development and his speech is delayed. I chalked it up to SPD…I mean, we all have a little of that, right? He is in weekly OT now and his tantrums have started to improve. Luke was born in 2013. He was late in walking and screams/screeches a lot! I’ve got my eye on him, but he is developing language, slowly, so I am optimistic about that.
Last year, we started to have plumbing problems. We did everything we could to keep the bathroom drains draining. We snaked, which worked a little, but didn’t open the drains completely, so we did what most other people do. We poured drain opener down the drains (an organic all natural alkaline type that is specific for unclogging hair). Overnight, the drain opener backed up into the bathtub and ate through the porcelain down into the cast iron. We had NO IDEA that there is a layer of lead between the porcelain and the cast iron!! Why is that a good idea?!?! We attempted to fix the bathtub ourselves because over half of the bottom of the tub basin was now jagged, pitted and unusable. We purchased a tub repair kit. We painted over the cast iron, let it dry and used it again just like nothing had happened. About 10 months later, the plumbing problems returned. We had to hire a plumber, who recommended that we get the tub professionally refinished since our fix was failing. The paint we applied was peeling and the tub had started rusting around the drain. This is where our nightmare begins…
I purchased an Angie’s List membership and found a tub refinishing professional. Upon one look at our bathtub, the professional stated that he would not touch it with a 10-foot pole explaining to me that there was “exposed” lead and refinishing it would release even more lead into our environment. He recommended that we immediately take our children to be lead tested. Totally freaked out, I went out and bought the 3M lead testing swabs. When the bathtub turned bright red upon contact, I started going throughout the house testing the walls, window sills, and doors and found lead in the boys’ room, our bedroom, the hallway, the bathroom…i’m probably missing some areas. Lets just say that we have red spots all over the house.
The following day I called the Mortgage Company, the Homeowners Insurance Company, the City of Portland, our County, and found no help. No one will help us bring in a professional to test our house’s lead levels. No one will help us remove our lead-laden bathtub that cannot be used. We have one bathroom, and we can’t use it! The difficult part for us, is that my husband was just laid off on Friday, effective this week with no designated rehire date, so we will have to survive on my 3 day a week part-time income, which currently isn’t enough to cover the expense of a hazard assessment (let alone bathroom renovation).
This is our only home and we don’t have friends or family with space for us. Can we even stay here? We at least need a bathroom that works. A local contractor explained to us that removing the bathtub first requires the walls to be tested at a local lab, at our expense. He further explained that removing the bathtub will destroy 3 of our walls and the floor…but it goes deeper than that. If the piece of our lath and plaster wall shows that there is lead (which there is), then we will have to remove all of the walls down to the studs and replace them with drywall, also at our expense.
We are now questioning my miscarriage. We also lost Luke’s twin early on. Our kids have been the most sick they have ever been the past year. Is this because of the lead? Luke even had a series of seizures when he was 8 months old. We are also wondering if our children’s developmental delays are due to the lead exposure. This is the only house they have ever lived in and now we know there is lead everywhere. Not only that, but we have been bathing them for the past 10 months in a tub basin with exposed lead leaching into their bathwater. My youngest mouths the bath toys and both boys love to eat the bubbles. We feel responsible for their daily challenges. Exactly how much lead have they been exposed to? How can we get the bathtub removed and the lead problem in our house fixed? Do we need to move out immediately and where do we go? We really need to know.
The Lead Safe America Foundation has started a fund to raise a minimum of $450 for a hazard assessment for this family’s home – so they can develop a game plan and a budget for moving forward. Anything raised above $450 will help them cover some of the costs necessary to deal with the remediation of hazards in their home. Prior to this hazard assessment, while it is not possible to know the full cost of the remediation necessary quite yet – we estimate that this family will need between $5,000 to $10,000 to remediate the hazards they have found in their home. If you are in a position to contribute in support of this family (or if you are hazard assessor and want to donate a full hazard assessment) click HERE to donate or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit and contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. Thank you.
Funds raised will be paid directly to vendors providing services to help this family, (funds will not be disbursed directly to the family.) Lead Safe America will work with family to determine best use of funds raised/ depending on total raised. Total raised will be updated here periodically. This story was posted on Tuesday, January 20th at 1:00 pm Pacific Time.