get the lead out

Linette and I had a crew of guys come over today to test this old house of ours for lead contamination. Our friend Steve, whos a contractor, was over the other day and he pointed out that the stuff that we thought was dust on our windowsills could in fact be fine particles of lead. With the baby coming in a few months we thought that we should have it checked out.

I had always thought that the lead paint they used on old houses like this one wasnt a problem unless it was chipping and pealing. I knew that you didnt want kids sucking on chips of lead paint, but I thought that was about the extent of it. It didnt occur to me that every time you raised or lowered one of these turn of the century windows that you were essentially rubbing multiple pieces of poison-coated wood together. The pieces grind against one another, causing little clouds of poison to plume up into the air. Then, these particles settle on the sill, just waiting for a good gust of wind.

So thats what we were thinking about when we called in this Ghost Busters-like anti-lead squad with all of their high-powered particle accelerators and such. I wasnt here for the test, but Linette said that the equipment looked impressive. Id like to think that it was all a scam, that the devices were just constructed from shoeboxes, garden hoses and couple coats of silver paint, but one of the guys on the crew was a friend of a friend and weve heard that their company is the best in the business.

Anyway, they tested a few places around the house. Apparently, a score of 40 is the dividing line between whats acceptable and whats not. Im not sure what that number denotes, but Im guessing something like parts per million. So, guess what we had?

Twenty-five thousand!

Apparently, weve been sloshing around in huge drifts of lead shavings for the past four years.

Does anyone know the signs of lead poisoning? And might this explain my faltering memory, depression and ghostlike coloration?

(note: Linette just read this and she had a correction to make. Apparently it was one of the lead chips off of our porch that came back with the 25,000 reading. It wasnt just a random swab from the living room floor.)

Oh, and they made Linette go and hide in the basement while they were conducting some of the tests. I think it had something to do with x-rays and the fact that shes pregnant. Of course, I, being somewhat paranoid, think that they might have just sent her down there so that they could copy down our bank account numbers. (I expect our retirement accounts are being drained as I type this.)

On a completely unrelated note, I got letter from the Utne Reader today. They want to include Jeff Kays Sleep is Creepy article (Crimewave #15) in their next issue. Its nice to know that the folks at Utne read Crimewave and that the work of our friends is appreciated.

Congratulations, Jeff.

I’m going to go put a plastic bag over my head and scrub windowsills now. There’s not much time before little baby Lead Sponge moves into this cozy Superfund site we call a home.

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