Introduction (for those new to this website):
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-Federal-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times to confirm the test results for each component tested. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Updated: May 30, 2023 – Tuesday
“What are the goals of this PSA Campaign?
“Why do a PSA Campaign in the NYC subways?”
I have been reporting about the concern for Lead paint on food-use consumer goods every since I first became trained and certified in using XRF instrumentation for accurately detecting and quantifying metallic neurotoxicants in consumer goods, back in 2009.
In response to my children being acutely Lead-poisoned nearly 18 years ago [in August of 2005], my work in the area of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention has also included crafting legislation to protect children from Lead exposure, and attempts at getting that passed.
Since 2016 – through the work of Lead Safe Mama, LLC (officially incorporated in January of 2018) – we have aggressively been pursuing product recalls for Lead-contaminated products we have discovered in the course of this work. To this end, we have used product safety reporting mechanisms available with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as well as other ways to encourage that corporations be held accountable for making toxic products.
Through all of these efforts we have learned (relatively definitively) that the legislative process in the United States is “broken”.
Early on we decided that swifter and more impactful progress would be made towards the goal of comprehensive international childhood Lead poisoning prevention (primary prevention) through efforts to directly educate parents and increase general public awareness about the health risks associated with the cumulative exposure to neurotoxic Lead in our immediate environment (as well as simple effective actions that parents [& others] can take to to reduce and ultimately eliminate that exposure).
Sources of exposure, of course, include legacy Lead paint used in our homes, schools, and other buildings; Lead-contaminated soil (from decades of deteriorating Lead-painted structures, and Leaded-fuel auto exhaust); Lead-contaminated municipal and residential water-delivery infrastructure — as well as a long history of Lead used in industry, and the manufacturing of all sorts of products — including a large number and variety of consumer goods found in most homes today.
Up until now the primary focus of our work has been in reaching a “virtual” audience — reaching parents with this important information (to help them protect their children) online and through social media (Facebook; Instagram; Twitter; Reddit; YouTube; TikTok; this website; and articles, interviews, podcasts, etc. online).
With this Lead Safe Mama, LLC Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign in the New York City Subways, we are moving the message out of the virtual world – out into the real world – to see if this might be a strategy that will amplify the message, and amplify the impact of the message.
We have chosen to move into “the real world” with this effort (an effort to generate a greater public awareness of the persistent concern for Lead exposure to children in 2023) …because the opportunities on social media have fallen far short of our goal. More and more the reach of our work is artificially severely-limited online – limited both as a result of social media’s pay-to-play models, and as a result of heavy-handed corporate manipulation and selective suppression of information distribution/free circulation (both deliberate human intervention, and as a result of notoriously biased and inequitable “autonomous” computer algorithms that to a disturbing extent now determine who sees – and who winds up not getting to see – variously-delineated “types” of information).
The reach and impact of our work online is also limited by “messaging fatigue” — the fact that consumers are inundated with (both useful and useless) online messaging to such a preposterous degree at this point, that just to stay sane, we have all learned to simply tune-out most of it!
We came up with the idea of a PSA print campaign in the New York City Subways several years ago (in 2016, actually) — after seeing the media-stir generated by an intriguing campaign in the London Underground…in which an entire subway station was taken over with pictures of cats. (Read more about that here.)
Our thought process on this is that print advertising – in this venue, with a “captive” yet engaged audience – will produce a greater impact — and may do a better job of encouraging public discourse on the issue.
The Goals of this Lead Safe Mama, LLC New York City Subway PSA Campaign
Goal #1) Legislative Impacts & Product Recalls
- The main goal of this current Lead Safe Mama, LLC New York City Subway PSA campaign is to precipitate legislative initiatives (or – even better – aggressive enforcement of current legislation) that will STOP manufacturers of child-feeding products (sippy cups, water bottles, baby bottles, breast milk storage containers, baby food storage containers, etc.) from producing and selling products with Lead paint or other Lead-contaminated components.
- This goes hand-in-hand with Goal #3 below – initiating public Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls for all of the Lead-contaminated baby-feeding products on the market today (or in use in homes by families today) that have not yet been recalled.
Goal #2) Increased Blood Lead Testing
- Another primary goal of the campaign is to encourage people to get tested for Lead — regardless of their age; gender; socioeconomic status; educational background; ethnicity; racial demographics; political persuasion; or other factors.
- Contrary to what most publicly-funded Lead-poisoning prevention programs tend to focus on, Lead-poisoning does not discriminate – anyone can be poisoned by Lead; it is not a problem that is limited to “low-income families”, nor to “minority families”, nor to “poorly-educated families” — or any other demographic; it is an “equal-opportunity” public health crisis, [still] impacting families every day, in virtually every community, and in every strata of society.
- An increase in BLL testing not restricted by unnecessary demographic profiling (and the resultant data) will provide data that demonstrate to our Federal regulators (health departments, etc.) that stricter regulatory standards are required to protect humans (of every age and description) from being exposed to Lead in their homes, schools and communities (including exposures from consumer goods, foods, beverages, water, supplements, etc.)
Goal #3) Consumer Demand for Highly Visible Product Recalls
- Another primary goal is that readers of the information linked to the PSA campaign (via the embedded QR codes) will inundate the CPSC with violation reports for the Lead-contaminated baby bottles highlighted through the campaign (we are currently working on updating each baby bottle related article in the campaign with a direct link to the CPSC’s site for readers to complete a violation form – example here) – and that all of the baby bottles in question will be formally and publicly recalled with highly visible recall initiatives and correlative high profile news coverage. [Why it isn’t already front page news in the New York Times that Lead painted baby bottles are being sold every day in the United States – is beyond me!]
Goal #4) Raising Public Consciousness
- One final goal (perhaps the most important one) is to simply create a noticeable wave of increased public consciousness of the issue, an effort which we hope will get the attention of the news media, and in turn our regulators — so that once public outrage increases enough to drive political will in this direction, (back to Goal #1) new enforceable (and well-funded / supported) regulatory standards are enacted (for Lead in consumer goods, Lead in housing, Lead in water and more.)
All of this may seem” indirect”, as each item is not a concrete / direct call to action…but raising awareness of the issue (in a way that people can better understand how this impacts them personally) is a required first step. When people (of all walks of life) truly understand this is their problem, they will begin to take appropriate actions – including appropriate political action.
Additional pieces related to the Lead Safe Mama, LLC New York City Subway PSA campaign include:
- Lead-painted short baby bottles
- Lead-painted tall baby bottles
- Dishes with high-Lead glaze
- Lead-painted cartoon character (collectible) glassware
- Press Inquiries page
- Test results for all items pictured in the campaign
- Article with in-depth discussion as to why we have decided to undertake this as a PSA Campaign with printed panels in the NYC Subway