“Similar interventions that play to a child’s environment and the way they live could have a very significant impact on cognition and overall health,” Guilarte said. Non-structured play and exercise could make a big difference for low-income children.
“I’m incredibly hopeful that by studying the way chronic stress and pollution interact, we may not only be able to devise interventions aimed at prevention, but ones for children who may already be suffering health effects from exposure to pollutants such as lead air pollution,” said Robert Wright, the Harvard pediatrician.
“There’s no reason to think anymore that lead poisoning should be permanent,” he said.
After Ford discovered high lead levels in the soil outside her home, she worked with a local organization, Worcester Roots, which specializes in soil cleanup to fix the problem. The group put down pebbles and mulch, and built a patio – low-cost landscaping that reduces contact with lead-tainted soil.
“It worked,” she said. The doctors saw a decrease in the amount of lead in her son’s blood.
Because of his developmental delays, Ford’s son is supported by special education services at school. He has to work harder than the other kids to keep up in class.
“I am afraid for him,” she said. “I want him to be able to function, to become well educated so that he has the freedom to choose what he does and where he lives. I don’t want him to be limited in his choices.”
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.