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Lead Bullets, Avgas, Tetraethyl Lead, and Dental Additives

PO Box 2276, Lynnwood, Washington  98036-2276
Telephone 425-771-1110, Fax 425-776-8081

February 15, 2013

Seattle Times
Letters to the Editor
PO Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111
Sent by fax to: 206-464-2261
Sent by email to: jbalter@seattletimes.com; kriley@seattletimes.com; opinion@seattletimes.com; letters@seattletimes.com;

To the Editor:


It is odd that in the 21st century we are still contaminating water, air, and hunted food animals with bullets made out of lead. (See “Gun range under fire over lead exposure”, 2-14-2013.) There are good alternatives. Shooters should follow the Army’s lead and switch to lead-free “green bullets”.


In 1977 we mostly banned lead paint (which is sweet to a toddler’s taste), and most of it has been painted over and sealed in. So we hope that it is not as great a problem as it was in the 1970s. I say we mostly banned lead in paint because it is still used in some states in road paint, and lead free paint can still be up to 9 ppb lead.


There is a forgotten side to the lead story. From the 1920s into the 1970s our air was poisoned by tetraethyl added to gasoline. In the 1970s TEL was phased out. It turned out that all along ethanol had been just as good as preventing knocking. Promoters of TEL had known this and lied to sell their product.


When leaded gasoline was banned, a loophole was carved out for aviation gas, commonly known as Avgas. Many propeller driven planes still burn avgas, and they spew lead down on us as they fly overhead. Most piston driven planes can be made to run just as well on other gasoline mixtures, and those which cannot should get new engines.


The most ignored and possibly the most significant source of lead is our tap water. Simplot, the company which supplies the particular type of dental additives which Seattle injects into our water, admits that it contains lead, and NSF, the quasi-agency which regulates water additives admits it contains up to 1.1 ppb lead, which using Avagadro’s math equals around 6.4 trillion atoms of lead per quart of water.


It gets worse, much worse, because the dental additives are effective lead solvents, and there is a lot of lead in Seattle plumbing. There is lead in old service lines (street to house), in brass-lead pipes, in galvanized pipe (which absorbs lead from lead service lines), in the solder used on copper and brass pipe, and in virtually all water faucets (Washington considers 8% lead to be “lead free”).


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in 2004 that lead had been found in Seattle schools at up to 1,600 ppb. This is an astonishing level. The EPA action level is 15 ppb, and the EPA goal is zero. 1,600 ppb equals 1.6 ppm, which is twice the current .8 ppm level of the dental additives themselves.


The chemistry is basic. Dental additives leach lead. Once in the body, lead is hard to excrete. “Lead as metal ion irreversibly binds sulfhydryl groups on proteins, including both structural and enzymatic proteins”, says Dr. Sauerheber. When Tacoma stopped adding dental additives in 1992, lead levels dropped dramatically. Lead damages the brains of fetuses and babies most of all because their cells are still dividing.


It is politically incorrect to oppose injecting dental additives to drinking water. Politicians avoid the issue out of fear of the well-funded, well-organized, but scientifically uninformed pro-additives dental lobby.


Nevertheless, it is an indisputable fact that the dental additives used right now in Seattle contain not only lead but also arsenic, mercury, cadmium, barium, and thallium (which is slightly radioactive).


If we are really serious about lowering blood lead levels, we need to focus on all sources of lead. Lead bullets, lead plumbing, lead paint, lead avgas, and lead dissolving drinking water dental additives should all be outlawed. There are better ways to shoot guns, fly airplanes, and plumb a house.  And there are better ways to protect teeth, such as diet and dental cleaning education, basic dental and cleaning services, supplementing vitamin D, and not eating sugar.


See documentation for all assertions made at www.leadoutofourwater.wordpress.com.



James Robert Deal, Attorney
WSBA Number 8103
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