Sunday, November 12, 2017

What Lead Tells Us About The Modern World

Pb is the symbol for Lead on the periodic table because Plumbing pipes in Rome originally used lead. I can't confirm the accuracy of that statement or most of this essay so don't quote me on it.

I also learned that Kentucky coal miners were stricken by a coal dust disease that caused their throats to turn bluish-purple and that is where the term "blue collar worker' comes from.

I learned these trivial, possibly false, details in a class on lead abatement and containment. I am a certified lead renovator now because my life has not been hazardous enough. I want to delve into poison such as asbestos and lead and toxic waste. The class was taught by an experienced general contractor who had the temperament of a scientist but was raised in a farmhouse with no electricity and became a home builder/renovator. The slow wheels of science finally turned to the point that lead was banned from paint back in 1978...but there was no great rush to address how to contain lead in surfaces panted prior to 1978 simply because all city streets and alleyways, front and rear lawns, sidewalks, parks are contaminated hopelessly with lead residual from the days of leaded gasoline. Standard Oil tried to up-sell vehicles with the promotional advantage of not producing horse shit that stunk on hot days. They knew lead was pure poison but attempted many different variations to remove the lead and failed. All the additive substitutions stunk worse than horse shit, so they kept the lead and poisoned all future generations of Americans. But Rockefeller turned a nifty profit so not everyone lost out!

These tidbits of info are not verified or fact-checked. They may be lies. I will use them only to make a point about due diligence because I think it's amusing.

Let us accept that Standard Oil knowingly violated all the rules of the scientific method and ignored the precautionary principle and The National Lead Company (leading manufacturer of lead-based paint) also knowingly poisoned everyone and then adopted the name of Dutch Boy Paints in an attempt to distance themselves from their villainous past...thus demonstrating fundamental disregard of due diligence.

Due Diligence is something I think too few are aware of. I like to think of it as a process of doing anything in such a way as all the steps can be repeated. Basically, it's the way you would do something if you knew you were going to be sued at the end of the job. Your due diligence would prove your methods and document your efforts so accurately that it would be possible to recreate all the steps. If you erred then your error would be documented along with the reasons for your error and your justification for ignoring the error. Think of it as a global "Show Your Work" reminder like the ones on your 8th grade homework assignment. Your work is your due diligence. The answer is incidental because if your work is correct then your answer will be correct. If your work is wrong then your answer can be ignored since your work is the part that caused the wrong answer. Due Diligence is where the work takes place.

Well, due diligence appears to be a result of lawsuits and I'd like to promote it as an end in itself. You should not need to be sued to embrace due diligence but that seems to be the tradition.

Case in point: lead paint removal and renovation. As a newly certified lead paint renovator I now have an casual understanding of what is required to responsibly and legally renovate dwellings with lead based paint. This involves due diligence, ie. demonstrating and documenting my methods as outlined by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and OSHA. I won't go into the details about those methods but I will say that they bear no resemblance to what took place in the labs at national Lead Company and Standard Oil. These companies worked in relative secrecy and it was only the extreme health problems that their employees experienced that caused any changes at all. One of the changes ended up being the Dept. of Labor creating a branch called the Occupational Safety and Health Admin. Lead was a paint additive since 4 B.C. and it still is in some paint. Lead paint was banned in the U.S. but only in household paint. It's still in all kinds of imported products such as Chinawear, Crockpots, Toilets, sinks, Tile, toys, tractors, motorcycles...etc. It's also in any soil near a street. Well, after 2000 years of irresponsible usage it now falls on this generation to expunge lead paint from households and I got a glimpse of what this means.

It basically means containing dust and cleaning the job site, ensuring all the paint is scrapped onto a surface that can be controlled, not onto a hardwood floor with cracks that will capture the lead. I think of the hours this will cost humanity, the lifetimes spent meticulously removing lead paint from surfaces. But it doesn't stop there. Because a renovator removing lead paint from surfaces is probably working on someone else's house they are encouraged to document every step of the process. The first step in removing lead paint is actually informing the client that their home is contaminated and that the process is quite involved to remove the lead paint. The house or work area is then contained and the paint is peeled off in whatever manner is most tedious, whilst documenting the process with photos and client signatures. Again, each step needs to be documented so it can be recreated when you get sued after the client dies of lead poisoning. If you can't demonstrate Due Diligence, then the fact the client died due to unrelated landscaping in the backyard that stirred up lead dust, will be irrelevant. Your renovation, the lawyer will insist, caused the death. No, it was not 2000 years of irresponsible manufacturing, generations of greedy cock-sucking corporate fiends who depleted the Earth to amass huge fortunes in order to buy political favors whilst poisoning the land they rent to wage slaves. No, no, that part is irrelevant and besides, they did no Due Diligence so no one has any idea how lead got in our paint or soil. It was Oggy's 2 week project removing window trim from a house built in 1952. THAT was what caused the untimely lead poisoning of the client. SURE!

It vexes me greatly that this is what it comes to; a blatant engineering blunder that is passed along from one corporation to another until finally the lowest wage earner in the equation is required to DO SOMETHING RESPONSIBLE AND DOCUMENT IT. Is Standard Oil or the Rockefeller Estate or Dutch Boy paint handing out $9000 grants to assist in the removal of paint from some 300 million homes? I ask you? Who will cover the colossal cost of this $2,700,000,000,000 fuck up? The same people who are covering the cost of incarcerating all the developmentally delayed lead poisoned inner city collateral damage victims. Yes, you will pay with dollars and Oggy will spend a lifetime picking apart the mistakes of corporate past. It's worthwhile, right? It's a worthwhile job, dissecting lead poisoned paint. Yes it is.

I shake my head, actually shake my head back and forth like I'm being filmed and the director is shouting "OK, Oggy, shake your head back and forth in deep regret and disappointment!!" That is how I shake my head because of the series of events that led me to today. 

Lead on painted can simply be bagged and thrown away with all the other poisonous trash we toss in a pit that will eventually leech into rivers and oceans. There is no other way to dispose of it since the brilliant chemists at Dow spend all their time trying to poison humanity rather than how to turn lead into harmless elf farts.

Jesus, what a total disaster. Generations of humanity poisoned for brighter colored fences and faster horseless vehicles. So contemptible, so disgusting.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.