Monday, September 24, 2018

Lead Poisoning on U.S. Army Bases

A special report published by Reuters this August shows that lead poisoning in children in the U.S. is not an isolated issue. In fact, hundreds of children residing on Army bases throughout the country, from Texas to Georgia to New York are reported to have high lead blood levels. Beginning in April of last year, Reuters began investigating the prevalence of lead in Army base homes, and the results were shocking. Of the five homes initially tested in Fort Benning, Georgia all were found to have toxic levels of lead; one house had 58 times the federal threshold! Lead poisoning is avoidable in homes if proper measures are taken, however the Army failed to do so despite concerns from families about the chipping lead paint in their homes, and the health impact it may have on their children.
This was the case for Colonel J. Cale Brown and his family. Stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, his son John Cale Jr. began experiencing odd symptoms only a few months after the family moved into one of the homes on the base in 2011. John Cale Jr. suffered from a loss of appetite, limited speech and general disorientation. It was months later that doctors discovered the root of the problem: high blood lead levels. Their son had lead poisoning. To prevent this from happening to other children at Fort Benning, Colonel Brown pleaded with Army officials to perform regular home inspections and lead testing in children, and to also confront the building contractors from Villages of Benning who were in charge of managing the houses. Base leaders agreed to follow through on his requests but little was done. A year later seven more children from the base were found to have high blood lead levels.
Moving forward, Army officials need to take responsibility for their actions, and follow through on their word by performing abatement on hazardous houses and regular lead testing on children residing on bases. Members of the U.S. Army and their families deserve safe and healthy living conditions, just like everyone else. You can read more about the story here: