The LEAD stuff from pencil case

The LEAD stuff from pencil case (Photo credit: Christoffer Mørch)


Over the past few decades, the issue of lead paint poisoning generally has been associated with low-income, multi-ethnic urban families; however, recent data indicate that this problem has migrated to middle and upper classes, and now is characterized as a “silent epidemic“.  The  focus on the troubling health problems associated with lead poisoning has prompted new efforts to alert parents of the mechanisms and dangers of lead exposure and actions needed to prevent lead exposure in children, as well a to detect and treat children who have been affected.


A major project in the works to provide information on lead paint poisoning currently is being undertaken by Tamara Rubin, a film director, whose upcoming film documentary, MisLEAD, “aims to dispel a long-standing misconception that lead poisoning is confined to low-income communities and to children who eat paint chips”.  Ms Rubin, who also is the executive director of the nonprofit, Lead Safe America Foundation, notes the importance of educating all parents, particularly  those in the middle and upper classes, on the realities of lead poisoning and dispelling the perceived stigma and shame often connected to lead paint exposure.  This, in turn, will encourage parents to discuss this issue with their pediatricians and to insist on tests for their children to rule out lead paint exposure.


This project is very personal for Ms Rubin as she had to confront lead paint exposure in her family following a home renovation project that included the removal of old paint.  Two of her children became violently ill, and it took their pediatrician a long time to entertain the thought of lead paint poisoning in the differential diagnoses.  Additionally, due to the lack of awareness of lead poisoning, Ms Rubin never considered the possibility of lead paint poisoning in her children or the need to get them tested.


Ms Rubin’s experience is not unusual in that many older homes in middle class neighborhoods containing old lead paint in walls, pipes, etc., are now occupied by wealthier Americans.  This paint, which was used many years ago because of its durability, is now deteriorating and creating “a new wave of lead exposure that wasn’t happening 10,20, 30 years ago”.  Exposure to lead paint typically occurs during renovation and rehabilitation processes or during rebuilding projects that disturb the soil, which often contains accumulated leaded gasoline from automobile exhaust.  Another noted source of lead exposure is realized from many products that we use everyday, including, but not limited to, “pipes, crystals, shoes, jewelry and car keys“.


Studies show that lead poisoning usually affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the area that controls decision-making and compulsive behavior.  Over the years, lead paint poisoning has been associated with higher crime rates, lower test scores by students, ADHD, and even autism.  These health problems occur in children from all economic sectors.  Simply stated, lead paint poisoning does not discriminate.  Currently, we see families who have to rely on pharmacological “treatment” for their children’s symptoms, with the realization that these products mask symptoms, rather than cure the problems and often cause adverse side effects.


Detection of lead levels in the blood is done through blood testing.  Results showing lead levels above 5-micrograms-per deciliter are indicative of lead poisoning in a child.  It is imperative that all parents request that their children be tested for lead poisoning, regardless of their economic status as neurotoxic conditions arising from lead poisoning can be devastating to children’s physical and emotional health and development.  The first line treatment for lead poisoning is avoidance of the exposure, which often is enough to reduce the lead levels in the blood.  In the home, this can be accomplished with lead abatement projects.  With detection of lead poisoning, doctors are able to treat children with a number of therapies, including chelation therapy, which involves administering medications that binds with the lead so that it is excreted in the urine.


A great place to start to get information on the important issue of lead paint poisoning is  Next, consider a discussion with your child’s pediatrician for guidance on this issue.  Please remember that the protection of our children from environmental toxins is tantamount to our effort to live green, be green.


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On this good green news Monday, LGBG has opted to use this opportunity, in light of the tragic events at  Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, to reflect on the meaning and obligation of green living.  We know that green living means different things to each of us, from protecting the air, land and water to recycling and not polluting to eating healthy diets and getting exercise.  No matter the individual perspective towards green living, I think it is safe to say that there are basic tenets central to our understanding of green living.  They are as follows:

  • The choices made by any one individual affects all of us.
  • The choices we make today will affect us at some point in the future.
  • When we speak about saving the planet or the environment, we are talking about saving ourselves.

With this understanding, it is important for everyone to make living green an obligation, not a choice.  The greatest obligation we have is to our planet and to our children, each and every one of them.  They are the future of this land and as stewards of the Earth, we are obligated to deliver to them a clean, healthy environment.  It is our responsibility to love and protect our young and to do all that we can to ensure that they grow up to be healthy, happy and prosperous adults.  To that end, we are obligated to educate them.  We send them out to school each day with the expectation, and a very reasonable one, that they will return home to us.  In turn, our government has an obligation to provide a safe learning environment for our children and a guarantee that they will be protected and will be returned to us at the end of the day.

A major concern of green living is the safe and environmentally friendly design of buildings, and the conversation regarding this matter must be a top priority.  It is urgent that city planners, engineers, environmental consultants and elected officials design and build schools that are safe and secure from intruders, with the staff and technology to monitor all visitors and deny admission to anyone perceived to be a problem or who pose a potential danger to staff or students.  We know that buildings can be designed to be secure as our prisons are secure on any level that we need.

We also must address the safety of our society, especially our children, from a health perspective.  This begins with coming face-to-face with the issue of mental illness.  We need for every citizen to have access to health care.  This goes a long way to aid in the identification of people, young and old, with mental health or emotional problems, which apparently is a substantial portion of our population as evidenced by the widely used mental health diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder , bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  We must provide treatment for these individuals, just as we would for people with cancer, heart conditions, arthritis autism or any other physical anomaly.  A change in attitude that regards mental illness as a sickness will help families to come forth and seek help, rather than hiding these conditions so that a loved one will not be made to feel like a pariah in the community.

Green living obliges us to raise our children to respect our environment and the other people and animals who occupy this space with us.  Our choices on how we treat our children, what we feed their minds and bodies, and the examples that we set for them to follow will determine their physical and emotional development and well-being.  We must teach them to be kind to others and to never be a bully to any person or animal.

If we all accept green living as an obligation, not a choice, we can take a major step forward to heal from these recent tragedies and move forward to save our planet and our children.  Let’s all respond to the call of duty to live green, be green.

On Children by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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Description unavailable (Photo credit: theloushe)

The recent ad launched by opponents of the fossil fuel industry declaring “Exxon Hates Your Children” is disturbing, provocative and unsettling.  Two advocacy groups, Oil Change International and The Other 98%, launched the controversial ad on its website on Wednesday in an effort to cajole Congress to “eliminate fossil fuel subsidies amid fiscal cliff negotiations”.   The ad portrays an actor posing as a representative of Exxon, stating, “We all know the climate crisis will rip [your children’s] world apart, but we don’t care because it will make us rich”.  The targeted markets for this advertising campaign includes the very same areas where the American Petroleum Institute is running ads arguing that “[m]ore energy development produces more jobs, revenue and energy.  More taxes produce less of all three”.

This ad war comes on the heels of the budget crisis and looming fiscal cliff.  Proponents of climate change face the possible elimination of wind energy tax credits amid the arguments of conservatives voicing objection to the 2% subsidy by the federal government.  If not extended the PTC credit will expire.  Conversely, opponents of the fossil fuel industry voice objections to not only the huge subsidies received by oil companies, but also to their business model, which requires continuous drilling for oil, which is proven to be responsible for climate disruption.  They cry foul also because in the last year alone, renewable energy, though recognized as important for a healthy environment, received six times less support worldwide than fuel subsidies.

While the declaration that “Exxon Hates Your Children” grabs the attention, it is propaganda.  We all know or should know that Exxon and all major corporations exist at the will of the people.  As long as Exxon (the current poster child for the fossil fuel industry)  has a viable market, it will be around, doing what it does–  drilling and manufacturing oil for oil-hungry consumers.  Exxon does not hate children.  Rather, it loves money, and in its quest to make the money it loves so much, it harms the environment.  Perhaps the best analogy for this scenario can be found in the circumstances surrounding Timothy McVeigh‘s bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  It was not McVeigh’s intent to kill the children in the nursery in the federal building.  Rather, they were “collateral damage” in his quest.

Currently, the earth and its inhabitants all are the “collateral damage” of the fossil fuel industry.  However, we do have a choice.  Let’s strive to reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.  We can start at home by conserving energy, reducing our use of water and electricity, recycling and using energy-efficient products.  Moreover, we can make sure we are heard by our representatives, who serve at our will.  Demand that they vote green or be voted out of office.  Let’s fight to live green, be green!

Sources for article:


Exxon (Photo credit: Tom Haymes)

Fall has arrived officially.  Life is busier than ever with the children back in school and with several major holidays swiftly approaching.  For many people, this season signals fewer visits to the gym and difficulty maintaining workout schedules.  The good news is that a lot of fall activities carry great health benefits, especially in the area of calorie burning, while also being relaxing and fun.

  • Walking.  Temperatures are cooler and outside colors are vibrant.  For every hour of hiking, expect to burn about 400 calories.  Also, this is a great time to walk through a corn maze.  The kids will have fun and walking here for an hour will burn approximately 300 calories.
  • Raking leaves.  This is one of the mandatory rites of autumn with a great health benefit.  While raking tones arm muscles, it also burns more than 100 calories every half hour.
  • Chopping wood.  Take that simulated wood chopping move practiced in the gym to tone abs to the next level.  In addition to saving money on firewood for the winter, splitting wood for 25 minutes burns 150 calories.
  • Pumpkin picking.  Walking with a 10-lb pumpkin is as good as a kettlebell workout with the added bonuses of fresh air, beautiful scenery and a 270-calorie burn.
  • Organizing a fall wardrobe.  An hour spent swapping out summer clothing and shoes for winter attire burns 240 calories.
  • Apple picking.  This is a fun activity for the entire family that helps the local economy and provides fresh fruit while burning 200 calories for every hour of picking.
  • Trick-or-Treating.  A walk with the children around the neighborhood is healthy family time, and an hour-and-a-half walk burns roughly 330 calories.  Try not to sabotage the benefits of this activity by eating too much candy.

Autumn brings a time for new and exciting fitness opportunities along with a bounty of fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables that can be picked by the consumer.  All of this, combined with family time enjoying the cool fresh air and beautiful landscapes, offers a great opportunity to live green, be green.

Autumn Bounty



Living green virtually applies to all areas of our existence, with the root of this effort lying in our concerns for good health.  With the status of our health the driving concern for smart living, it naturally follows that we should work to protect the environment and our food sources.  Just as the neglect and abuse of our bodies has been a gradual process, so will a turnaround in bad habits to reverse this situation be gradual also.

I found an interesting article on organic intelligence, which promotes teaching children how to live smart.  Written by Lloyd Glauberman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, this writing first acknowledges the slow moving pandemic of obesity, especially in children, and its medical consequences.  The author admonishes that this problem needs to be solved literally at the beginning of life.  Dr. Glauberman explains how infants respond to internal cues, such as hunger, by crying when needing to be fed and turning the head away when satiated.  However, as we age, we are bombarded with so much external stimulation that our internal cues become desensitized and amnesic.

With the incorporation of organic intelligence modeling starting at the preschool level, we can teach children to recognize and label internal cues.  A curriculum that teaches and reinforces nutritional value, food quality versus quantity and the need to maintain a healthy body weight and image can be introduced in all academic curricula.  Parents can reinforce these concepts at home through conversation and in family participation in snack selection and meal planning and preparation.

Organic intelligence is a simple concept to understand.  It is based on a theory of “mindfulness” as opposed to “mindlessness”.  As a foundation for a “healthy personal ecology”, organic intelligence teaches us to live green, be green.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court submitted its ruling that upholds the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act or as we have come to know it, “Obamacare”.  The overall costs of this act in terms of dollars will be hotly debated for years to come, especially in regards to individual mandates and expansion of Medicaid to cover unemployed and uninsured people.  While there is some disagreement about some of the terms of Obamacare, one positive lies in the mandatory provision of preventive services, especially for women and children.  This definitely fits into the category of a green initiative.  

With this provision, many people, young and old,will get the opportunity to get medical services in a physician’s office rather than in the emergency room.  This experience is important because an established doctor-patient relationship in an office carries with it an educational component.  People with established relationships with medical professionals can attest to the availability of reading material available in the doctor’s waiting rooms regarding nutrition, exercise, hygiene, etc., as well as the videos that often are playing on the televisions.  The wait time in the physician’s office is a dedicated learning experience.  Also, the scheduled block of time for each patient provides opportunities to ask the physician or the assistants general health questions and to get referrals for ancillary services, such as counseling, support groups, etc.  On the other hand, appearances in area hospital emergency rooms are often rushed due to the sheer number of people waiting to be seen.

Preventive services are very important because they incorporate a holistic approach to good health.  They encourage us to make the connection between positive changes afforded by clean air, clean water, healthy diet, environmental changes and other green initiatives that help us to avoid health problems.  

We also can expect to see hospitals and medical practices adopt practices to control the increased flow of visitors to their facilities.  These initiatives include the increased use of visiting nurse practitioners and physicians to homes to treat chronically ill patients, the use of computers and video conferencing to maintain remote contact with patients to discuss their conditions and the introduction of more community counseling, lecture series and classes for patients to address health issues.  

Obamacare definitely is a step in the right direction to educating citizens to live green, be green!


School is out and warm weather is here.  This is an opportune time to get involved with the green movement.  Teachable moments are everywhere.  For older children who want to earn extra money doing lawn care, parents can give instructions on the use of green products to care for the lawn that do not pollute or produce runoff to streams and lakes.  Younger children can learn how to grow flowers or vegetables using organic plant and vegetable food that is not harmful to the environment.  There are few restraints here.  Projects can be as large as outdoor land or as small as houseplants or patio gardens.

Planting an outside garden provides a great opportunity to enjoy the weather outside and is a great alternative to watching television or playing video games. Developing a schedule for gardening activities teaches children to adhere to routines and to commit to projects.  These characteristics are key to success in both education and work.   Researching green gardening, implementing a plan and then carrying it out fosters teamwork and promotes wholesome family time.  The final product, whether it is a crop of tomatoes or other vegetables or a garden of beautiful flowers that were grown by an organic process that contributed to the health of the environment will be a source of pride for any family and most likely the highlight of the summer vacation.

Green gardening is a wonderful activity and learning opportunity that stimulates and teaches valuable lessons to children without mimicking the feel of the classroom, thereby providing a rewarding and unique adventure for both parents and children.  Let’s use this natural classroom to go green this summer.