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Dr. Matt Dorsey, DACM, LAc

Who Is the Lead Safe Mama and was she attacked for speaking the truth?

If you’ve read any of the stories about the lead that was found in Stanley’s virally popular tumblers, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the woman who originally broke the story.

Her name is Tamara Rubin, AKA ‘the Lead Safe Mama’, and the tale of how she got to be a lead safety advocate and what she’s been through since is an epic blend of tragic and inspiring.

We had a chance to dive into both her work and the drama that’s accompanied it when we wrote our article on the Stanley cup lead lawsuit, and we were impressed not only by her passion, but also her use of proper testing to back up her claims.  It also reminded us of how–despite decades of scientific and regulatory progress–this incredibly pernicious heavy metal remains a major problem for millions of people.  

The sheer amount of chaos that she’s dealt with–which she believes has come from the powerful industry she decided to take on–is nothing short of shocking.      

If you’d like to know more about the Lead Safe Mama’s dramatic crusade to teach the world about the dangers of an insidious neurotoxin that still harms children all over the world, then you’re sure to enjoy this article.  

(Disclaimer: we have no evidence that the lead industry or any other companies were involved in any of the events that befell Tamara Rubin and we make no claims as to whether her accusations are accurate.)

The birth of a heavy metal crusader: the Lead Safe Mama’s tragic origin story

Few topics generate more passion than the safety of children. 

Though most experts believe that there’s no safe level of lead exposure for either adults or children, kids are especially vulnerable to it.  Like other toxic heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum, lead tends to wreak havoc on the nervous system, and that goes doubly for a young brain that’s still in development.  

What happened to Tamara Rubin’s two boys is nothing short of heartbreaking.  In 2005, she hired a contractor who told the family that it was safe to remain inside since he was only working on the exterior. 

He used a combination of power washing, scraping, and an open flame to remove the previous layer of lead-based paint–all techniques that he assured them were ‘lead-safe practices’.  

Her sons–only eight months and three years old at the time–immediately became violently ill, suffering from vomiting, intense diarrhea, and headaches.  In an act of grievous irresponsibility, the clinic told her that there was no reason to worry because they didn’t have fevers. 

After a full two months of continuing to live in that house, her boys still tormented by a number of symptoms, she returned to the doctor and demanded that they undergo extensive testing.  Shortly after, she received a call in the middle of the night telling her to evacuate her home right away because, according to their bloodwork, her children had acute lead poisoning.

Their levels eventually reduced, but by that time it was too late.  In her words:

“When their blood lead levels finally went down, we thought we had been through the worst of it.  But we had no idea what the future had in store for us.  Lead poisoning had left our kids with permanent brain damage.”

(This quote as well as the previous descriptions are from the Lead Safe Mama’s documentary film, “MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic” which you can watch for free on Vimeo.)

Ever since, Tamara Rubin has been on an epic, heart-wrenching journey to spread awareness about the dangers of what she and many experts see as one of the most potent neurotoxins in existence. 

Speaking truth to power is always fraught with peril 

After spending a number of hours exploring the Lead Safe Mama website, it became painfully apparent that she’s been met not only with acclaim, but also massive conflict.  When we say that Mrs. Rubin’s journey has been ‘epic’, that might sound like an exaggeration, but after hearing what she’s been through, you’ll understand.

In the period of almost twenty years since her kids were poisoned, Mrs. Rubin went from not knowing any more about lead than the average layperson, to becoming a renowned expert featured on USA Today and even Consumer Reports

According to her website, she’s been responsible for a number of recalls, many of them involving children’s products.  

Most activists only do research in the form of reading scientific articles and talking to experts.  It’s rare to find individuals who perform their own direct research, which is a double-edged sword.  Despite how much credibility a person might gain from doing their own analytical testing, it’s also something that can open one up to criticism from the forces they’re exposing.  

Despite the fact that she’s merely a ‘citizen scientist’, the Lead Safe Mama has gone to significant lengths to use advanced testing methodology in her product analyses.  She uses a $35,000 piece of equipment called an ‘XRF spectrometer’, which is the same technology that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission utilizes to test products for lead.  

Besides being more expensive than many cars, an XRF device also requires training and certification to legally operate.  So yes, based on the techniques she’s using, it does indeed seem that Mrs. Rubin’s work is scientifically legitimate, but of course that hasn’t stopped companies from sending their lawyers after her.  

In addition to the attacks she’s endured from the manufacturers of the products she’s exposed, she claims that many of them have come from the lead industry itself.

An example of the first–and much more straightforward–category is her exchange with I Play, inc., the manufacturers of Green Sprouts children’s cups.  In 2017, Mrs. Rubin tested the paint on one of their sippy cups, determined that it contained lead, published her results, and sent them a letter to make them aware of her findings.  

I Play’s initial response came directly from their lawyers.  The letter stated that she “published false and misleading information” and demanded that she take it down immediately or suffer the consequences.   

The Lead Safe Mama didn’t react the way they expected her to…not remotely.  Instead of instinctively genuflecting to the powers that be out of fear of retaliation, she audaciously suggested that the company fire their ‘predatory lawyers’, requested that they issue a full recall, and even advised them to publish a public letter of apology to all mothers.  


Clandestine attacks from shadowy forces, or just a case of bad luck?  

A slew of extraordinary events have befallen the Lead Safe Mama during her tenure as an outspoken lead safety advocate.  

In February of 2016, at a large event hosted by Bernie Sanders during the Flint lead crisis, she gave a speech suggesting that the lead industry should be held responsible for what happened there and announced her upcoming documentary film.

The following month, she received a letter from the Oregon Department of Justice informing her that her non-profit, the Lead Safe America Foundation (LSAF), was the subject of a formal inquiry based on an ‘anonymous complaint’.  

Then, in May of 2016, just three months after her very public speech blaming the lead industry, the LSAF got a letter letting them know that they were being audited by the IRS.  

Shortly after that, her non-profit received a notice from the State of Oregon letting them know that it was selected for an inspection of their XRF device.  The initial letter called it a “random inspection” but Mrs. Rubin says that it was later confirmed to be a result of another anonymous complaint.  

So right there, within three months of speaking out, she was already being hounded by the DOJ, IRS, and the State of Oregon Radiation Safety Division.  

At one point, her lawyer told her, “Innocence is not the point; to potentially go up against the DOJ would be very expensive; you simply cannot afford to prove your innocence in this matter.”

Then came another massive punch in the gut when she was ousted by the organization that she herself started.

In an article by the Portland Tribune, Mrs. Rubin stated:

“While I cannot be 100 percent certain, it is my distinct impression at this point that the lead industry is behind a complaint to the Oregon DOJ that has resulted in an escalating series of events designed to shut down my film, my advocacy work and the nonprofit Foundation that I founded…This has progressed from what everyone dismissed as merely a nuisance…to a no-holds-barred, all-out intimidation war aimed at dismantling the organization, and stopping the film from ever being seen by the general public.

The chaos continued into the next year.  

In May of 2017, the IRS told her that they intended to fine her over half of a million dollars for “suspected excess benefit transactions,” which is essentially another way of saying “embezzlement”.  They dismissed all of their accusations shortly after, but the war was nowhere near letting up for the Lead Safe Mama and her family.  

Shortly after her IRS issues disappeared, she was arrested for allegedly stealing health insurance for her lead-poisoned sons.  The charges were dropped, but the retaliatory tactics she felt were being used against her had reached a new peak of intensity, graduating from the civil to the criminal domain, and her professional relationships had begun to suffer.

Ashwagandha can affect the immune system in only 4 days, illustration of person and immune cells

The Lead Safe Mama today

Faced with so much conflict, many people would have thrown in the towel years ago, but Tamara Rubin is still going strong.  

Though her documentary was never totally finished, it’s still a full length, in-depth look at the issues surrounding lead toxicity and we recommend watching it if you’d like to learn more.  Her website is also a wealth of information.  

Here are some resources from the Lead Safe Mama site that you might benefit from, especially if you have children:

  • Baby Bottle Guide – contains a list of brands that she recommends staying away from as well as links to products she’s tested and believes to be safe 
  • Dish Guide – note that antique dishes are particularly suspect, but even modern ones can be problematic 
  • Stuff With Lead – includes toys, appliances, crystal, brass, plasticware, pottery, and even soil 

Lead is but one of thousands of toxins we deal with in the modern world

Lead is a huge problem, but so are mercury, cadmium, glyphosate, PFAS, and possibly hundreds of thousands of other chemical compounds in use that have minimal-to-no safety testing.  

We don’t say this to spread fear, but just to keep you informed.  Like the Lead Safe Mama, we’re also passionate about educating people about the dangers of toxins and have published a number of articles on that topic.  

It’s also why we created APEX Liposomal Glutathione, a blend of thirteen ingredients formulated according to their ability to affect the biochemistry of your body’s glutathione system and support healthy detoxification.  In addition to liposomal glutathione, NAC, and vitamins & minerals that are essential for detox, APEX contains adaptogenic herbs like bacopa, ginkgo biloba, and gynostemma which support glutathione in the brain and promote healthy cognitive function.  

It’s also our top-rated supplement by a long shot.  If you’re looking for a daily detox solution that also promotes healthy mood, energy, and focus, then you’ll love APEX.  

If you’d like to learn more about metals, pesticides, and other toxins, here are some great articles:


Dr. Matt Dorsey, DACM, LAc

CHOQ Chief Product Officer

Matt Dorsey is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, medical herbalist, clinical nutritionist, and supplement industry veteran. As our Chief Product Officer, he heads product development and relies on his extensive training to ensure that our supplements are safe and effective.