Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lead Poisoning

I have an acquittance from college and a friend from facebook who has been having all sorts of difficulty with her children testing positive for lead poisoning and the subsequent financial implications as they've tried to renovate their house to remove said lead and then further bureaucratic issues trying to get state funding to help expedite the process.

I've spent my share of time dealing with bureaucratic paperwork and headaches, and fully understand the challenges of tight budgets with small children.

But this particular story [read about it HERE with pictures and more back story and how to donate to help them and everything] hits even a little bit closer to home than all that.

You see, that pretty and afford older house they bought to renovate is very common in the area of Iowa where I was living when Kristina was born. I cruised countless MLS listings of extremely similar places during that time, and had Peter's military service not taken him into the Army (and out of Iowa) when it did, we probably would have ended up buying a house almost identical to theirs eventually.

And the place we DID buy out in New York wasn't exactly much better on the "old house probably filled to the teeth with toxic lead paint" scale.

But we happened to get lucky. 

The owners before us had done some kitchen and bathroom renovations, put in new windows, and painted lots of rooms lots of bold colors.

Did you catch that? 

They renovated, including the clean up of all the probably lead filled dust. They put in new windows, so even if they weren't of the highest quality, they also weren't the lead filled stained glass sort I thought were so pretty when we house hunted. They painted, covering up layers that were almost certainly originally full of peeling lead paint. 

They did things that unintentionally kept my children from being accidentally exposed to a substance this other family is desperately trying to fight in their home.

And I cringe especially hard at the thought of the house I really wanted to get in New York that we didn't, this beautiful old Victorian dollhouse that I had been pining away for since I was a very small child.

I cringe because ultimately it wasn't concerns about something as mundane as lead poisoning that made it a poor option, it was the part where the furnace was wood fed that just made it too... impractical. Not the vast 3500 square feet size, not the gorgeous and extremely heat inefficient stained glass front doors, not the ancient still working knob and tube wiring, not the small outdated kitchen, not the creek running behind the house half and acre away on the edge of the property, not the vintage wallpaper, and not even the probability of lead saturating so much of it... but the wood burning furnace that had to be fed every few hours to keep the heat running.

So through an odd combination of dumb luck and questionable happenstance, my children are lead free while hers are poisoned. Sometimes it's a shitty world out there, full of dangers you don't even know exist until it's too late.

1 comment:

  1. I share your love and yearning for old houses, but the relief of not worrying about lead. Our townhouse - when the kids were babies - was built in the 90's. Wayne Manor is early 70's, but has tested negative for lead. Still, I try to discourage chewing on the house, not that Robin has been deterred.