There were really a lot of hazards when I was growing up that we didn’t really pay much attention to. When I was a kid, I played with the mercury that was in those old glass thermometers. We had methionine and Mercurochrome, both of which had mercury in them. My grandmother kept a bottle of paregoric in the bathroom medicine cabinet. She used to rub it on baby’s teeth when he was teething to settle him down. Paregoric is, of course, an opium derivative.
We used bug spray by the ton in the summertime. My mom would spray the foul-smelling stuff onto the screens in the kitchen and when the breeze blew in, the fumes came right in with it.
Both my parents smoked when the dangers of second hand smoke weren’t known. When they took me to school in the morning, the car would be so filled with smoke that I could hardly breathe.
My parents always told me to eat all the food on my plate. I guess that they didn’t realize that I could become fat and obese when I got older and die from it.
And we lived in a very old, creaky house. The house had a lot of windows and all of them had those old lead window weights as well as lead paint around the trim. A nice double helping of lead exposure.
Lead exposure in children can cause brain damage in children and high blood pressure in adults. And since there were a lot of old brick building in St. Louis at the time, the problem was a widespread one. Add to that the fact that cars were burning fuel with lead in it and it’s a wonder that we survived at all.
According to The Healthy Planet Magazine, Ivory Perry was a civil rights activists who alerted St. Louis to the dangers of lead poisoning. The segregation and racism that Ivory experienced as a teenager in Arkansas meant that he was not surprised to serve in a segregated unit when he joined the army in 1948.
Ivory came to St. Louis in 1954 and was drawn into civil rights protests within a few years. When the extensive picketing for jobs at Jefferson Bank began in 1963, he was often in the press when arrested for actions such as lying in front of cars.
Ivory also worked with renter who were being discriminated against by their landlords. While working wit these renters, he discovered a lot of health problems with the children in the homes. He found out that this could be tied to the lead paint in the children’s homes.
Ivory Perry was instrumental in persuading the city of St. Louis to pass its first laws concerning the regulation of lead paint in the homes.