Eliminate Lead Poisoning: A tool for change

Lead poisoning has stalked us all. It is the number one environmental threat to children, and as I write this over 300,000 kids in the U.S., ages 1-5, have blood lead levels above anything considered ‘safe’. But, don’t panic. We now have a powerful weapon to fight this silent killer. Magellan Biosciences just received approval for their new 'point of care' instrument that can tell you if you have lead poisoning in 3 minutes. The LeadCare II, a laptop size machine, requires only few drops of blood, is highly portable, affordable, and best of all - almost anyone can be trained to use it. (I want one)Creating 'point of care' devices are one of the primary goals for medical diagnostic companies. Many of you have had the experience of a normal diagnostic test; visit the doctor’s office, go to the lab to get your blood drawn, wait two weeks for the results, and then back to the hospital for a conversation with the doctor. A point of care device enables the practitioner to test you right there on the spot, and receive an answer immediately. But, the implications of the device go far beyond just saving money and time.

By eliminating the tremendous overhead of shipping biological samples, and having trained professionals at all stages of the operation handle (mishandle) your rather large blood sample, doctors will be willing if not eager to give you a lead test. The increase in testing will enable quick identification of potential contamination and hot spots. Also, monitoring of high risk individuals, those that work with potential lead sources or those most vulnerable, will become possible.

As always, the major challenge for creating this kind of service will be financial. Although, I must admit the $2,200 price tag is as cheap as it gets for medical diagnostics- but still the wide spread nature of the beast requires local networking and fundraising for initial purchase and consumables. The LA Times cited Ruth Ann Norton, the executive director of the non-profit ‘Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning’ as saying:

"Funding would be a really smart idea," she said. "Even in the absence of that, communities will still have to act and push the government and the states."

I think she is right, so if your pocket book is empty, a pointed letter to local policy makers could go a long way. Now all we need is a point of care device for every other toxic thing floating around… ::Magellan via ::LA Times