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 else – someone 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” ?!
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.
Lead Safe America Foundation