Regulation is not a dirty word. To me, it simply translates as protection.

I got to hear a politician recently claim the main reason he ran for office was because he hated regulations and wanted to get rid of them. Generally, regulations become necessary when maintaining profits becomes more important than safety. A rule is enforced to ensure commerce is protective of the consumer or the environment.

Just this week the EPA posted a 30-day extension for comments in the Federal Registry for a new drinking water rule involving plumbing products, dramatically lowering the percent of lead, with some exemptions for products such as fire hydrants. Labeling will be required to reduce inadvertent use of non-lead free plumbing products to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water and adverse health effects. I intend to write a comment, and you may want to also.

When investigating a classic older home this week for sources of a child’s high lead levels, there were several possible sources for lead exposure such as lead paint, lead pipes and yard soil. The yard could be sampled by DEQ for lead and the child’s parent had already made a call to request it.

I continued to look for clues. What was the child’s route of exposure? I learned from Susan Waldron years ago, when she worked in the Lead program at the Ottawa County Health Department and was called to investigate how a child was getting high lead levels. She had interviewed the parent, gone to the home, and was still puzzled, but what she taught me was to observe the child and the exposure source could be revealed. Sure enough, that child showed her the source: the old painted wood post on the front porch she loved to grab with one hand and go round and round. That wooden post tested positive for lead-based paint and was the sole source of her exposure.

With this in mind a few days ago when observing a child and his focus on an electronic device while he lay on the carpet and played intermittently with the family dog that had just come in from the backyard left me wondering if the carpet might have trapped lead dust tracked inside.

If there was lead dust in the carpet, where did it come from? How could it have gotten in the yard? From old paint on the house or fencing in the past with residue left in the soil. The previous owners might have worked on cars, might have had hobbies that would have used lead, like for making lead shot or lead sinkers or like many other residences throughout the county, chat might have been hauled in over the decades for numerous reasons.

It is sometimes a mystery how children get lead poisoned, but it is always a tragedy.

There is a Federal law on the sale of housing built prior to 1978. This law was established with the intention to help protect buyers. That child’s mother was concerned and wanted answers. She looked through the paperwork for the sale of the home looking for anything that might have warned her that the home could poison her children.

This instance reminds me our work to get lead paint removed from housing stock in the community is still a great need and for every realtor and our property managers to learn more about lead poisoning and what they can do to protect children. Have your own children’s blood lead level checked. We have the opportunity to have every residential property sampled for lead. Let’s do our part to get rid of it. Call DEQ Hotline: 1-800-522-0206.

Regulations that protect us are needed, where we work and live and what we consume. If they go away, we will have to fight those fights again. The protections corporations or businesses pursue generally are profits, but that doesn’t always have to be a dirty word either.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

— Rebecca Jim is executive director of the LEAD Agency