Lead's Danger Rose in the Public Eye

This article from 1991 informs the reader that more attention is being brought to the issue of lead poisoning in homes, especially homes with children or adults who work in high-risk jobs. The advocacy of Dr. Angle is again clear in this article as she is quoted multiple times discussing this issue. The article showcases the ever-developing field of lead poisoning at this time as more testing is occurring. With the continued work of Dr. Angle the information available to medical professionals grows allowing for more prevention and education to take place. The article reports that WIC daycare centers in Omaha are getting blood lead level testing done in order to find children who have elevated blood levels. And when high blood lead levels are found to monitor them in order to make sure that the levels  do not continue to increase. It also reported that lead was being found to be more dangerous at lower and lower levels. 

Testing for lead is expensive and according to Robert Chapman, from the Iowa Department of Health, in the article, costs were expected to rise as safe lead levels lowered. The narrower window of safe blood lead levels was beyond the abilities of the current testing equipment which did not test for blood lead at such a low quantity.  This meant that more research needed to be done and that instead of being able to use the finger prick system a full blood draw would be necessary to test the blood lead levels of the children.  Dr. Angle continued to focus on blood lead levels and their origins in a new research study focusing on young children in Omaha.

The article also reports that, “The government has phased out leaded gasoline and has placed strict controls on industries that use lead, but some children in the Midlands continue to suffer from lead poisoning,” (Zelenka, 1991). The effect of this phasing out is incredibly important to consider when discussing the continuing effect of lead in Omaha as children are still testing positive for elevated blood lead levels. This study is incredibly important to consider within this lens as the blood lead levels of children have not decreased even with the end of tetraethyl lead in gasoline. This ban has decreased the amount of lead present in emissions even though much of the emissions have already settled into the dirt surrounding roadways.  Without solid proof that this has decreased lead levels it must be assumed that lead is still present in the environment which is further being tested by Dr. Angle’s research. 

With this further testing the effect on children will be further studied as Dr. Angle “is conducting a study with 22 youngsters between the ages of 18 months and 36 months who live in northeast Omaha to determine how they get lead into their systems,” (Zelenka, 1991). With a sample size of twenty-two, the study was small, but had the potential to offer important insight into how these children are experiencing the elevated blood lead levels. This research into how children were developing high blood lead levels is incredibly helpful for understanding the significance of Dr. Angle’s work in Omaha.

Zelenka, J. (1991). Lead - Poisoning Risks See Higher Profile. Omaha World-Herald (NE), NewsBank: Access World News. https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news/12DF0F048C555940.