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The Lead Wars and the Fate of Children

March 4, 2016

Tags: Lead poisoning, NPR, Terry Gross

"Flint, Mich., isn't the only American city with a lead problem. Though the health crisis in Flint has highlighted the use of lead in water pipes, author David Rosner tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that lead, which is a neurotoxin, can be found throughout the U.S. on walls, in soil and in the air. From public radio: America's 'Lead Wars' Go Beyond Flint, Mich.: 'It's Now Really Everywhere' '

"'The problem with lead is that it's now really everywhere, and we've created a terribly toxic environment in all sorts of ways.' Lead is particularly dangerous to young children. In their book, Lead Wars, Rosner and co-author Gerald Markowitz describe the ways in which even small exposures can interfere with a child's brain development and cause lasting learning challenges. 'It causes IQ loss. It causes behavioral problems. It causes attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, dyslexia,' Markowitz says."
The book: Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children by by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner

Listen to their Fresh Air interview or read highlights from it:
• On the pervasive use of lead in the first half of the 20th century
• On how people figured out that lead was toxic;
• On looking back at patterns of health problems that doctors now think could have been caused by lead poisoning
• On the Lead Industries Association's racist PR campaign in the 1950s
• On the documents they found that show the lead industry was knowingly misleading the public.
It will probably make you mad and, best of all, check out your local environment and take action.

See also:
What Do Parents Need to Know to Protect Their Children (CDC Fact Sheet) [PDF 168 KB]
CDC Response to Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (CDC) [PDF - 165] KB]
Low Level Lead Exposure Harms Children: A Renewed Call for Primary Prevention (Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jan 4, 2012)
Lead Poisoning (Wikipedia). As always, don't count on Wikipedia being reliable because anyone can post anything and although the site is monitored, it is also constantly changed. But this is a good overall summary of issues, history, etc., with links to many relevant articles and other resources.
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