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Propaganda Continues Throughout Lead Paint Trial Coverage

celesteAs evidenced by the news articles published in our most recent newsletter, an interesting theme has come up in all of the writings about December’s State of California lead-paint case ruling…

The most interesting thing about this “theme” is that it runs through both sides – the people that support the ruling and those who oppose it are both perpetuating this myth and paradigm that was an integral part of the lead-paint companies’ campaign in the early part of the 20th century—a cynically crafted “damage control” campaign designed to misdirect and mislead regulators and the American public in the first place.

So in this “moment of victory”, the propaganda [that lead poisoning from paint hazards is the “result of poor or deferred maintenance” or “neglected or deficient housekeeping”, and “primarily affects poor and/or minority children in run-down housing projects in inner city slums” ] runs so deep that it colors even the positive coverage of the issue and still – today – continues to make everyone think the dangers of lead paint “doesn’t concern me” – but is the problem of someone elsesomeone else‘s home, someone else‘s demographic/ socio-economic status—someone else‘s children.

The deception is compounded by the fact that something like 90% of Americans today do not consider themselves “Low Income”  (but instead consider themselves “Working Class”, “Middle Class” or “Upper Class”) – so whether you make $20,000 a year in Iowa or $500,000 a year in San Francisco – you still consider yourself “Middle Income” (Gallup Poll citation) and if you think lead-paint is a “low-income” problem, – then by default it is not your problem.

Each of the articles focuses on how this ruling “…will mainly help (or hurt) poor people” [The cynical opposition pieces go so far as to claim “this is really a gift to slumlords“! .  Really—”poor people”? …”slumlords” ?!

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If (as the U.S. Census shows) approximately 80,000,000 American homes today were built and painted before the 1978 ban on residential house-paint, and one-in-three American children under the age of 18 today has had a blood lead level of 2.5 (micrograms per deciliter) in their lifetime. We are not just talking about “poor people.” In recent months the homes I have seen with lead-paint hazards (where children have been poisoned or are at risk of being poisoned) ranged from a $70,000 home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – to a $460,000 home in Portland, Oregon to a $4,500,000 home one of the richest towns in the Country – Los Altos Hills, California.

Lead poisoning of course, does not discriminate. Rich and poor alike are at risk. It just takes a microscopic amount of lead in house-dust (from the opening and closing of an original, double-hung window—found in the most elegant historic homes—for example) to poison a child. People of all socio-economic status live in “historic” homes with lead-paint. More and more so these people include upscale young professional families claiming a piece of history and tradition for their family.

By continuing to call this a “low-income” problem, pretty much everyone who reads the newspaper compartmentalizes the issue and thinks it is not their problem. “I’m not poor—this is a problem for urban children living in slums – right?”


This is your problem – this is everyone’s problem, [and if you are one of the lucky ones who lives in a new-construction home, who also sends your children to a new-construction school – this is also your problem because you are paying for it with your tax dollars] and until we make this fact known and until this becomes part of our public consciousness (that this is not just a “low-income” / “minority” problem—as so many journalists regurgitate) true change will not happen.

Tamara Rubin
Executive Director
Lead Safe America Foundation


2 Responses to Propaganda Continues Throughout Lead Paint Trial Coverage

  1. Tom Rodgers February 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    Tamara: I admire the work you are doing. I am an EPA Certified Lead Risk Assessor. Our firm utilizes XRF to test for lead based paint in Florida homes. The main source of our work is from RRP certified contractors who prefer not to rely on swab tests. It is my belief that if the members of the International Building Code are educated to the need for a code provision that requires proof of RRP certification prior to the issuance of a building permit on pre-1978 housing a high percentage of exposure during renovation can be prevented. Testing for LBP will be conducted and recorded, if found precautions will be taken and clearance will be conducted upon completion. Most State building codes and their modifications are patterned from the IBC. We are forming a 501c to work exclusively on testing for LBP and educating all pre-1978 homeowners, mortgage companies, municipalities and buyers on the need to test. The National Association of Realtors needs to modify their contract to remove the opportunity to waive the testing for LBP by buyers of pre-1978 homes. If you visit our web-site you will find the TODAY show segment featuring your story. It moved me due to our grandson being impacted by renovations his father (our son) conducted in their Fort Lee NJ home. It is why I became a Lead Risk Assessor. Keep up the fight – If I can help – My XRF is available. Tom Rodgers

    • Tamara February 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

      Thank you so much Tom! Please post the link to your website as well! It sounds like there is an opportunity for us to work together sometime in the near future!
      – Tamara

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