Getting the Lead Out

July/August 2003
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2003 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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July 01, 2003
Low-income families carry the heaviest burden of lead exposure. With the help of a chemistry class, that burden gets a little lighter.
        Margaret and Jon Sauser were ecstatic when they bought their quaint, almost 100-year-old house in Kalamazoo, Michigan.They were overflowing with creative ideas on how to renovate the structure to make it the ideal home for their growing family. Jon started sanding and refinishing the hardwood floors, stripping the paint, removing some of the interior walls, and installing new windows.After six months of renovation, Jon, Margaret, and Jonnie, their two-year-old son, eagerly moved in. For reasons that they did not understand at first, Jonnie’s behavior changed dramatically, and he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).A short time later, their second son, Cameron,was born.At 11 months, Cameron stopped growing.         Knowing that something was tragically wrong, Margaret pleaded with her kid’s skeptical pediatrician to test the children for lead.They discovered that both kids had been lead poisoned in the “safety” of their own home.The amount of lead in each of the boys’ bodies was 2 1/2 times the action level set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unbeknownst to Margaret and Jon, their dream home ...

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