Quote of the Day

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dr. Ralph Spezio Proved Lead Poisoning Was Making His Students Stupid

Dr. Ralph Spezio was made Principal of Enrico Fermi School #17 in Rochester City School District 3 decades ago. It was a school with nothing but problems. Chain link fences, metal detectors, armed police, violent students, and the lowest test scores in the State, made it the last place in the world you would want to send your children to gain an education.

Working tirelessly with a dedicated staff, Dr Spezio was able to turn the school around. Test scores improved, violence was reduced and an atmosphere of learning and safety began to permeate the school.

But despite these gains, Dr Spezio was still concerned about the large numbers of students that still had severe learning and behavioral difficulties.

Still searching for answers, he was able to build a health care clinic and dental office adjacent to the school so that all the children could have the health care they needed. But still problems seemed to nag a large group of children, many from good and loving homes. It was of grave concern to him.
Students who couldn't seem to master the basic concepts of math and reading.
Students who would jump straight over anger to violence,
Students who were taught a skill and then an hour later couldn't remember how to do it.
Then one day, he heard 2 nurses in the clinic talking about the unusually high levels of lead in a student's blood. Piquing his curiosity, Dr Spezio began to check the lead levels in the records of all the students he had. The results were shocking.

He found 41% of the 3, 4, and 5 year old students had blood lead levels that were over twice that recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.  
Everyone of the "special needs" students also had high blood lead levels.

Listen to Dr Spezio talk at TEDxRochester, November 2010, and see the complete results of what he found, but more importantly, what happened as the community reduced the lead from their students environments and bodies.

For more information, check out:
Renovate Right, EPA document on lead poisoning and renovation
The Truth About Lead Paint Poisoning, tri-fold brochure
Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting
American Healthy Home Survey, Lead and Arsenic Findings, April 2011

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