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Friday, June 9, 2006

Dagoba Chocolate recall: Blood test results

I've been stewing for a couple of months now about the fact that I consumed several Dagoba Chocolate candy bars (the Eclipse variety) that were recalled for high lead content. As has been discussed here before, I even had a half-eaten bar tested for lead content, and the results were through the roof. Dagoba won't reveal the results of its own tests (other than to say that the lead levels exceeded allowable limits), but a month after the recall was announced, they did get around to informing me that they would pay to have my blood tested for lead.

In the meantime, however, I had discovered through the kindness and attentiveness of this blog's audience that blood screening for lead is available in Portland for free. The tests are regularly administered by an outfit called the Josiah Hill III Clinic. And so last evening I biked through the rain over to the Dishman Community Center, where the clinic gives the test to anyone who wants it, on the second Thursday of each month.

Thank goodness, my result was a mere 2.0 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood -- nothing to worry about, as I understand it. That's a relief.

A silver lining for me, then -- I came out ahead, having discovered an important community resource. If you live in an older home, and especially if you have children, there's no excuse for missing out on being screened. (The greatest risk for childhood lead poisoning occurs between 1 and 3 years of age.) The test takes about 10 drops of blood from your ring finger (I didn't feel a thing, and I'm a real nervous nellie with medical stuff), and you get the results in about two minutes.

Thank you, Josiah Hill Clinic and National College of Naturopathic Medicine Natural Health Centers Laboratory, for the peace of mind. I'll still follow Dagoba's response to its alarming quality control problems, but not with the urgency I was feeling up until now. At least I appear to be in the clear.

Oh, and another thing I learned: Josiah Hill III (below) was a pretty cool guy.

UPDATE, 6/9, 3:05 p.m.: A reader writes:


Your blog grabbed my attention this morning. As part of its lead hazard reduction and mitigation program the Portland Water Bureau provides some of the funding that enabled you to get your blood lead level test at the Josiah Hill III clinic.

Although there is no lead in Portland's source water and Portland has removed all known lead service connections from the city's distribution system, exposure to lead through drinking water is possible if materials in a building's plumbing contain lead. In addition to paint, lead in household plumbing is a primary source of lead exposure.

The Water Bureau's Lead Hazard Reduction Program is a comprehensive program that addresses lead hazards throughout the community. The Water Bureau offers free lead in water testing to all Portland customers - and many of our wholesale customers offer the same service. The program also supports the LeadLine (503-988-4000) which can coordinate getting the lead and water test kit to you. Certified lead risk assessors at the LeadLine can also provide information about risks from lead paint dust, pottery, children's toys, lead fishing weights, cosmetics and more. They can advise on ways to remodel older homes to avoid exposure to lead paint dust.

The Water Bureau's Lead Hazard Reduction Program in 2005 won an EPA Children's Environmental Health Recognition Award. The Portland Water Bureau is proud of the work we do to educate the community about lead hazard - and the services we provide to reduce exposure to lead.

Get the lead out - it takes on a new meaning in this community health context.

David G. Shaff
Interim Administrator
Portland Water Bureau

Comments (8)

Josiah Hill was a giant of a man physically and a major presence in Portland's arts community. When my daugter danced at Jefferson, and before that with Elizabeth Abt's children's dance company, he and his wife were deeply involved in the lives and the art of these young dancers. He is still missed.

Oh, and nice going on the heavy chocolate! I hope other consumers fare as well.

I think there's a forgotten in this post somewhere...

Haha crap. A forgotten italics end tag, which obviously won't show up in these comments if I just type it out.

A water bureau lead grant is also helping Parks strip all the lead based paint off the swingsets and other metal surfaces that were painted on the playground equipment.

Thanks Dave Randy & Co. Its public money doing what it should helping to protect the public.

I read in my "Edible Portland" that Mr. Paley (Paley's Place) invented his own power bar after deciding that most bars don't taste all that great. They sell them at New Seasons and Whole Foods.

For those of you worried about blood lead levels: Harvard and UCSF studies published in 1998 and 1999, respectively, found an inverse association between blood lead levels and vitamin C levels. Another study in 1999 from UT-Galveston found that supplementation with 1,000 mg/day of vitamin C reduced lead levels in the blood of smokers by over 80% after only one week.

lead in food and water is an issue of grand misinformation, unfortunately. i looked into the chocolate issue and discovered that the fda guidelines are for "candy". note, the fda doesn't discrimminate between an extra dark chocolate (made from cocoa beans) and a twizzler stick, cotton candy, starbursts, milk duds or hubba bubba bubble gum. this i find very scary. i also discovered that the daily consumption of lead during the 1940-50's was around 400ppm. this is daily consumption. the current fda guideline for candy is 0.5ppm. safety is a good thing. yet i just wonder how the fda came up with this number. if anyone knows, fill me in. it really makes no sense. if i walk out into my back yard and suck on some dirt, i'll get about 30ppm of lead.

doesn't the fda also allow gmo foods?

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