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1872 Mining Law Fact #12

Lead-a heavy metal released into the environment by multinational mining companies-is far more detrimental to kids' brains and nervous systems than crude lyrics and loud electric guitar.

Lead poisoning can permanently damage a child's brain, nervous system and kidneys. It can impede growth and cause hearing loss, learning difficulties, vomiting, headaches and appetite loss. Due to these dangers, lead-based house paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978.

308 million pounds of lead are released in the U.S. each year by companies mining for gold, silver and other precious metals, according to the EPA. Mining companies' lead pollution has contaminated water supplies, homes and the blood of children throughout the C'oeur d'Alene-Spokane river basin in Idaho and Washington.

Yet there are no public health provisions or toxic pollution limits under the 1872 Mining Law. It's a whole new way of getting heavy metal in excessive volume.