Home > City mama, motherhood, Politics > Beating my head against mass hysteria

Beating my head against mass hysteria

The Mattel recall has me slipping in mini-lectures to friends, acquaintances, and total strangers. Because, of course, even total strangers feel the need to ask me whether or not I checked the recall status of the toy The Child is currently gnawing on. They don’t usually pause for answer — they are just getting a kick out of berating another mother — and instead launch into a rant against the damned Chinese or big business or whatever they happen to prefer for a personal bugaboo.

They usually get brought up short when I ask if they have had their home tested for lead.

I did. Because The Husband works for the EPA and I know that toys with lead paint aren’t a major source of lead poinsoning. Nope. House paint and atmosphere are the leading causes. And yet, while we’re howling and foaming at the mouth about these toys, most people haven’t had their homes tested yet.

What’s funny was that when we were buying our place, everyone told us not to get it tested. Everyone.  The real estate people were nearly violent in their opposition. Even my dad, for whom “you can never be too careful” is a personal motto, said not to bother. It was like they wanted my kid to lose those 10 IQ points. (The CDC’s current “okay” limit is 10 mcg/dl, which the NEJM says is likely to lose you a nice big fistful of braincells.)

I can’t imagine what it would be like being a renter and having no control over the amount of lead my kid was exposed to because I couldn’t afford to move. I can’t imagine any better way of making sure that the lower classes never get too uppity — poisoning them with lead to reduce their brain power before they can even speak. (Or hell, before they are even born! Due to a quirk of human biology any lead in a woman’s body when she’s pregnant gets concentrated in the fetus.) Normally I’m not a big fan of class war ideology, but that freaks me the hell out.

There’s a whole big political mess here and I wont’ get into it because Slate has done a much better job at it than I could. Please read about it here.  But let me point out something that will get lost in all the outrage you should feel after reading that article.

So many of our modern fits of hysteria are so close and yet so far.  We’re railing about China putting unsafe additives in our food and still selling Lunchables at the grocery store. (Lunchables have been called the worst possible food to feed your children by… some important organization with good standing in the medical community, the name of which I cannot recall.) We freak about lead paint on toys — no reported instances of lead poisoning due to those, by the way — but ignore the epidemic of lead house paint.

I wish someone in the media — besides Slate — would do a story on the real lead epidemic. Maybe point out that nut job and evil child poisoner Randall Lutter, a man who says that we shouldn’t regulate against lead because it’s “too restrictive,” is right now the head of lead advisory board at the FDA! Maybe ask why Bush did that?

Then again, why not ask why Bush basically tried to repeal the Fifth Amendment a few weeks ago? Why not point out that Bush is squashing free speech like he’s a Third World Dictator? Maybe, while we’re at it, mention that congress “accidentally gave President George Bush the power to conduct warrantless searches and seizures … earlier this month.” (The quote is from Slate. The link is to the NYTimes.)

Oh dear. Sorry. That devolved into a rant. I’ll stop now. But please promise me that you’ll get your house checked. Seven IQ points can be make a big difference.

Categories: City mama, motherhood, Politics
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