There weren't many children in the neighborhood where I grew up. So I was glad when Nora O'Bannon moved in across the street. She was older but in my grade because she had had polio and it delayed her school. One day while in second grade Nora turned around after sharpening her pencil, probably to show me she had succeeded, only to poke me with her pencil point braking off below my eye and near my nose. My mother didn't have the heart to dig the lead out of me, and I probably wouldn't have let her. So we went to a dermatologist located in Big Spring, Texas and he got it out, but it left the mark since there wasn't an eraser made to erase lead marks in open wounds.
Last week the Waterkeeper Alliance sent Bruno Navasky to spend a few days in Oklahoma, see firsthand the issues in the Tar Creek Superfund site and to write a story about one of their newest "keepers." LEAD Agency has had Earl Hatley serving as our Grand Riverkeeper for thirteen years, and I am now officially your Tar Creekkeeper. Bruno came in from New York City after having his interview with Robert Kennedy, Jr. accepted for the September issues of Vanity Fair. He is a poet, a writer and a teacher, with years of experience, and it felt as if another world had lit gently into ours, whirling and absorbing, intent to sense this place, our ways and thoughts. Martin Lively, Jill Micka and Damon Montgomery were gracious enough to be part of the chorus heard.
Bruno had reported, "Members of the Waterkeeper Alliance patrol local waterways and prosecute polluters. Essentially, they act as the community’s coast guard, according to Robert Kennedy Jr. and they serve the role of an independent ombudsman that forces government to do its job, that forces polluters to stop polluting."
I had already learned after attending a couple of their conferences Waterkeepers are fearless, scattered around the country and now around the world, Men and women speaking out for their watersheds, coasts, rivers, even aquifers. And one of the traditions has been the annual tattoo challenge.
Tattoos are very popular. Most tattoos are voluntary with no one forcing you to get one. Most of the 120 million tattooed people worldwide have inked themselves for fashion. The trend is up for young adults, especially women, who now have more inked body art than men in Italy, Denmark and the U.S.
Some of the inks on the market weren’t intended for tattooing. The main risks identified are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, primary aromatic amines, microorganisms, heavy metals, and preservatives.”
Europe is paying attention to tattoo risk, not just of infections but also the chemical risks. Inks from the U.S. were responsible for two-thirds of the tattoo-related alerts sent to European authorities. The rest came from China, Japan, and some European countries with some unknown sources.
During the annual Waterkeeper conferences, Robert Kennedy Jr., the founder of the organization foots the bill for any new Waterkeeper tattoos. As the newest keeper, I have a full year to consider that first tattoo or if I will skip it, and after reading the latest on the inks that are used, the plan is to skip it.
We received what is called a RED ALERT the other night with the news of a prison escapee. Descriptions of him and his tattoos and even a photo were released. The next day I encountered a man on the lonely dirt road leading to my property. He was walking in the heat with a walking stick, a torn shirt and a great thirst due to the extreme heat. My water jug was empty and I couldn't help him. I just knew to treat him with respect and silently hope the best. It's funny, I never noticed tattoos.
He was the prison escapee who was later apprehended nearby. You might not have known but lead has been linked to criminal behavior, hear more about this at the Tar Creek Conference from Dan Clark graduate of Western Illinois University when he speaks about the relationship between criminal behavior and exposure to lead. This is yet another reason to reduce lead exposures for children. Get your child screened for lead and if positive use all means to remove any and all sources. Lead can have long term effects on that child and our society at large.
Don't blame the tattoo.