Monday, October 03, 2016

ENVIRONMENT - Getting the Lead Out

"How and why we need to get the lead out of our lives" PBS NewsHour 9/28/2016


SUMMARY:  Our love/hate relationship with lead is as old as history itself.  The origin of "plumbing" comes from the Latin word for lead.  But only in the 1970s did we realize the consequences of even low doses of the hazardous metal, and by then it was in our pipes, our paint and our fuel.  Science correspondent Miles O'Brien examines the lasting health consequences.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Now the risks of lead exposure, particularly for children.

After some debate, Congress appears poised to provide special aid to Flint, Michigan, and possibly other cities with lead in their water.

Our science correspondent, Miles O'Brien, looks at why lead was used for so long in so many places, and the health concerns, part of our weekly series on the Leading Edge of science and technology.

RICHARD TRETHEWEY, Plumber, “This Old House”:  My great-grandfather would be quite proud right now.

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  But he also might be a little worried, because fourth-generation plumber Richard Trethewey is showing me the technique for molding, shaping and joining pipe made of lead.

We met in the cellar of the latest renovation project for the venerable PBS series “This Old House.”  It's a 1909 arts and crafts home in Arlington, Massachusetts.

MAN:  Let's get started by talking with Rich Trethewey, the plumber.  Come on in.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Trethewey has been part of this famous band of TV renovators since the show debuted in 1979.

RICHARD TRETHEWEY:  So, in 1909, this was high living, because you had a basement laundry.

MILES O'BRIEN:  He fired up a burner and put some lead in a pot to do some plumbing the old-fashioned way.

RICHARD TRETHEWEY:  When this house was plumbed, that lead pot would've been going all day long.

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