Monday, 5 November 2012

Renovate At Your Children’s Peril

Someone please think of the children!!!

It must be a difficult job to be a parent. Not only do you have to raise your child as best you can, you also have to put up with all manner of studies, reports, advice, trends and media coverage which all tell you what a terrible job you’re doing.

And each report is more convoluted and obscure that the last. The latest to come out is that home renovations make your kid dumb. So forget about adding that new bedroom, seems your kid is better off sleeping in a tent out the back garden. 100 thousand kids are stupid they say, thanks to lead poisoning. Want a bigger house? Pity it'll make the kids as dumb as the very bricks supporting their new bedroom.

No heating, but your kids will be smart

There is no question that lead is toxic, but what is this study saying? What should the parents be doing? Don't renovate the house? Don't live in the city? Don't live in a house at all? Sounds like some more scaremongering, with no new information, no solutions, and no real point. Just like the toxic sugar crisis back in February (I still don't know how we survived that one), living your life is a dangerous and deadly activity!

In trying to make sense of the study, its apparent that its just statistics from the USA, overlaid onto the Australian population. No tests done on Australian kids, whether or not they live in a renovated house, with or without lead. Maybe I've been exposed to too much lead when I was a kid, but to use that classic 3rd grade kid comment, "I don't get it". By the same stats, if you said that if 50% of Americans are overweight, does that then mean 11 million Aussies are overweight? What about if 10% of Americans speak Spanish, can we then say 2.2 million Aussies also hablan español?

And what does any of it have to do with home renovations?

Further on in the article  its also mentioned that "A million kids losing a million IQ points - that's a lot of IQ down the drain". Now I'm not sure how scientific these figures are – but is one IQ point really that much for an individual? Wouldn't there be a deviation, depending on what the kid had for breakfast, or whether a distracting bird flew past the window during the test? And how did we go from 100 thousand kids to 1 million kids in the in the space of nine sentences? To make it even more confusing, at the end of the article, its said "We can only guess how many children and adults are suffering from high blood-lead levels that are impacting on their health". What? How did I get so lost? How many kids are there – first 100 thousand, then 1 million, and now you're saying you don't know? Must be that lead messing with my brain smarts again, God dang it.

Of course none of this has anything at all to do with home renovations. In fact, by the 2nd sentence of the article, the whole 'home renovation' angle of this story is completely forgotten. I guess they have to hype up the story - lead being toxic isn't exactly breaking news. And what better way to whip up a bit of a frenzy than an alarmist headline that has found yet another reason that parents are screwing up their kids!

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