On December 19th I got the nicest surprise in my inbox – a nice Thank You note from Josh Schneyer at Reuters for helping Reuters with their reporting this year.
I’ve invested a lot of time collaborating with journalists over the years—responding to requests for information and helping journalists with their research for articles on childhood lead poisoning, but it’s actually rare that I get a note like this and I really appreciated it.
I posted this screenshot of it on Facebook with the tag #BestChristmasCardEver. 😉
As many of you know, it has always been one of my primary goals to increase media coverage of the issue of childhood lead poisoning; I am often behind the scenes giving reporters concepts for stories they may want to work on or helping them find specific details / answer specific questions for stories they are already working on, linking them up with scientists and publicly policy folks (nationally and locally, depending on the scope of their article) and, most important, linking them with families of lead poisoned children around the country, so they can share personal stories that illustrate the focus of their article.
Through my advocacy I have become friends (both Facebook “friends” and actual IRL friends too!) with hundreds of families of lead poisoned children around the world – and we have worked together as parents to get our personal stories into the media.
Personal stories make the news memorable and relate-able and (unfortunately, given the news climate we have in America today) news outlets thrive on the readership generated by stories of personal tragedy… so this is the best tool we have for elevating our cause in the public consciousness and making sure the subject is part of the important conversations in the public eye today (for example – with the build up of the issue over the past ten years in the media, followed by the crisis in Flint, Michigan, addressing this huge national problem became an important piece of the fabric of the election in February and March – bringing a concern for the issue to a whole new audience of concerned American voters.)
Getting and keeping lead poisoning in the media has been a primary focus of my advocacy work over the past 10 years, for without a new level of public awareness, this problem will not be solved. In conjunction with the work of hundreds of other advocates across the country, this effort seems to have paid off. Now on the eve of 2017, not a day goes by without a new media story somehow linked to lead and lead exposure. It’s very rewarding to see this shift in the media.
Many of you may be familiar with the 2011 Trasande report which demonstrated that the total economic impact of environmental illnesses on our nation’s children was 76.6 billion dollars annually! Even in 2011 $76.6 billion was a very conservative estimate – looking at all environmental illness including childhood lead poisoning.
That’s more than 2/3 of the total estimated economic impact… from one single ubiquitous toxicant, one of the most potent neurotoxins known to man…
At the time of this report children were only considered poisoned (by federal standards) if they had a blood lead level (BLL) of 10 or higher. The CDC’s “level of concern” in 2011 was subsequently lowered to BLL 5 [in 2012] and the language was changed from “level of concern” to “reference level” – with new language incorporated in public statements clearly stating that “there is no safe level of lead exposure in a given child.”
In this report, according to the research team’s calculations, all of the other environmental causes for childhood illness (mercury, asbestos, BPA, etc.) taken together added up to less than half of the impact of lead alone—yet still most U.S. citizens today do not understand the profound impact of lead in their lives.
The proportion of media coverage is finally catching up with the impact (and cost) of lead exposure on our world, on our families. For this I would in turn like to thank my friends and reporters at The Huffington Post, TruthOut, The New York Post, the New York Times, Reuters, The Voice of Russia, The Oregonian, Al Jazeera English, The Associated Press, The Today Show, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, and yes – even Fox news – for their incredible collective coverage of the issue in recent years.
This is teamwork and we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.
Mother Of Lead Poisoned Children
Unexpected Lead Expert