What the toy recall can’t fix

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Images News With all the media attention focused on Mattel’s recent toy recalls, homegrown health threats can slip under the radar. In a fascinating piece for Slate, Dr. Darshak Sanghavi says to forget about tainted Batman action figures from China—there’s already way too much lead in the United States. The Centers for Disease ...

599826_070822_batman_05.jpg
599826_070822_batman_05.jpg


CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Images News

With all the media attention focused on Mattel's recent toy recalls, homegrown health threats can slip under the radar. In a fascinating piece for Slate, Dr. Darshak Sanghavi says to forget about tainted Batman action figures from China—there's already way too much lead in the United States.



CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Images News

With all the media attention focused on Mattel’s recent toy recalls, homegrown health threats can slip under the radar. In a fascinating piece for Slate, Dr. Darshak Sanghavi says to forget about tainted Batman action figures from China—there’s already way too much lead in the United States.

(micrograms per deciliter) are well below the “level of concern.” But recent medical evidence has shown that even with lead levels less than 10 mcg/dl, a child can lose roughly seven IQ points. And once these points vanish, they don’t come back. A population-wide average loss of seven points, Sanghavi observes, would place tens of thousands of kids below the general threshold for mental retardation. As a solution, Sanghavi proposes “zero-tolerance lead policies, which would mean nationwide de-leading of unsafe homes.”

It sounds like a no-brainer. So why the stall in taking action? Well, first there is the lead lobby. Then there is cost of de-leading paint in older houses nationwide, which works out to an estimated $58 billion, or about $8,000 for each IQ point saved. Apparently this is too much for Washington, since no progress has been made towards lowering allowable lead limits since 2000. But if we ignore the problem, it’ll go away, right?

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