Home  Lead Poisoning Case Study

2. Tragedy hits Ida Bell’s neighborhood

It had been a long day at school. Ida Bell was proud of her 8th graders and their presentations about influential African Americans. But the preparations for these community presentations had been enormous. Calling the parents, painting the backdrop, rounding up costumes, Mrs. Bell was beat. The presentations were a success and it would have been a completely joyous day except for the news about Felicia’s little sister.

Several days before, Felicia told Mrs. Bell that her little sister, Johanna, had been vomiting and her mother had taken her to the hospital. Today Felicia didn’t come to school. Bridget DuBois, Johanna’s kindergarten teacher, told Mrs. Bell during a break in the presentations that little Johanna had died. “They said she had lead poisoning.”

Mrs. Bell was stunned. She knew that lead poisoning was a problem. That it sometimes affected the children’s ability to concentrate and might be part of the reason some of them struggled so much in school. But she didn’t realize a child could die from it. She tried not to dwell on it. She had to focus -- to help the kids get through their presentations.

Finally, at the very end of the day, after feeding her family, making sure her own kids did their homework and getting them to bed, Mrs. Bell sank down on the couch, thought about sweet little Johanna skipping around the playground at school, and Mrs. Bell wept. Then she prayed.

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Home  Lead Poisoning Case Study

* Note: Death by lead poisoning is actually quite rare in the United States. For more information, read the following report from the Centers for Disease Control, Fatal Pediatric Lead Poisoning – New Hampshire, 2000.

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Last modified: April 10, 2002