Getting the Lead Out: The Complete Resource on How to Prevent and Cope with Lead Poisoning

By Irene Kessel; John T. O'Connor | Go to book overview
Introduction
Maurci Jackson was working on her ceramics late one night, after 15-month-old Maurissa had gone to sleep. Hearing a noise from the bedroom, Maurci found that the baby had gotten out of bed and had put a chip of paint in her mouth, which she was trying to spit out. Maurci rinsed out the baby's mouth and used a towel to remove any remaining bits of paint. The next morning she took Maurissa to the doctor, who tested her for lead poisoning. He found an elevated level of lead in Maurissa's blood, over 30 micrograms per deciliter—more than three times the level that is considered to be safe.
The doctor prescribed chelation therapy, a treatment that would remove some of the lead from the baby. It was an ordeal. Maurissa was given two shots a day for periods of 3 or 5 days. She screamed as her mother had never heard her scream before. The pain was excruciating. Although the treatment did lower the level of lead in Maurissa's blood, the level went back up after the treatment was over. It had to be repeated several times over 8 months until the blood lead level finally lowered, but never below a safe one.
No one explained to Maurci that returning a chelated child to the same leadcontaminated environment would result in poisoning her again. She was told only to keep the home clean—so she did. She increased vacuuming and dusting. She was not told that lead dust is so fine that normal vacuuming and dusting do more to spread the toxic lead by putting it back into the air than they do to remove it.

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