Lead Wars

Thursday, May 02, 2013

David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz look at lead poisoning during the past half century, focusing on one of the most contentious and bitter battles in the history of public health. Their book Lead Wars: The Politics and Science and the Fate of America’s Children chronicles the obstacles faced by public health workers in the conservative, pro-business, anti-regulatory climate that took off in the Reagan years and that stymied efforts to eliminate lead from the environment and the bodies of children.


Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner

Comments [21]

Lynn G from ny

what a disgusting twisted country we live in. The corporations over the people. Some things never change.

May. 04 2013 02:29 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm glad to hear the Maryland court's reaction to the Johns Hopkins experiment, which should be as well known as the Tuskegee experiments. (This comment is much more restrained than what I was yelling at the radio during that part of the discussion!)

May. 02 2013 12:41 PM
Tom from Port Washington

Mark Farfel, the principal investigator of the Johns Hopkins study who was forced to step down and was sued, is now the principal investigator of the World Trade center health registry at the NYC department of health.

May. 02 2013 12:40 PM
Coogan from JC/NYC

Good heavens, the gentleman said NYC has better/safer pipes (non-lead) because our pipes are mostly copper unlike the ones in Washington DC...

Considering the high rates of violent crimes and poverty in DC general over many decades can we fairly make an assumption there's a correlation? Cam this be tested and reported on? This really is huge.

Also curious about yhe pipes in the water system in Newark.

May. 02 2013 12:39 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Do community garden programs know they need to remove the existing soil before planting? How should the lead-containing soil be disposed of?

May. 02 2013 12:38 PM
Tish Doggett from brooklyn new york

6 years ago both my very young children had acute lead poisoning from negligent landlord's bad renovation that released lead dust into our apartment. we were lucky to find out due to mandatory blood test our children had within weeks of moving into the place. they are ok now, but it was a horrific experience as a parent and we continue to monitor their health for longterm effects. and we had a lawyer in the family who helped us recoup our losses too. we were very lucky. so many parents have no idea about this. we live in fairly "affluent" park slope brooklyn, where old lead in paint is quite common. why isn't here mandatory blood testing for lead throughout a child's life, perhaps through our public schools? so many families i know are completely ignorant to the fact that there can be such permanent horrible damage to their children's brains and health.

May. 02 2013 12:37 PM

When I moved into my current apartment, as a divorced parent with kids occasionally staying with me, my landlady almost rejected my application on the basis of my having kids, because she didn't want to do anything about the lead paint hazard. Such is the nature of landlord attitudes on the lead hazard. Fortunately (for me), my kids were old enough for it no longer to present a risk.

May. 02 2013 12:36 PM
tom from astoria


May. 02 2013 12:36 PM
Alan from Brooklyn, NY

I thought most new electronics use non-lead solder due to EU RoHS (reduction of hazardous substances) regulations.

Most new electric cars use NiMH or Lithium Ion batteries, as opposed to the standard lead acid car battery used in gasoline cars, too.

May. 02 2013 12:34 PM
Howard Sachs from bronx, ny 10463

What is the natural, pre-industrial lead level in humans?

May. 02 2013 12:32 PM
neil from vero beach, fl

Unleaded aviation fuel is available in Europe and Japan, but not in North America.

May. 02 2013 12:31 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Do you really want to mention only the president's party in connection w/the program cuts? How much is attributable to the administration & how much to the congress?

May. 02 2013 12:31 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The same thing happened w/asbestos & radium. Manufacturers knew they killed people but kept the info from the public.

May. 02 2013 12:27 PM
Jf from Dystopia

Its all on pourpose. They are dystopians, thats why they want poor people ccommiting crimes, to leggitimize their place as the .0001%.utopia is enevitable they have known since tesla invented wifi and free clean energy. This is why corporations destroy everything good, and nature. False economies.

May. 02 2013 12:25 PM
Ed from Larchmont

But like lead in gas, the reason they used it, I'm sure, is that it made the painting much easier.

May. 02 2013 12:25 PM

@Hugh - Lead used to be a component in solder used in plumbing. In a very old building, it's a good idea to run the water for 30 seconds before drawing water to drink (esp. in the morning). It is a very old building in deed that has pipes actually made from lead. Does anyone know of one (for certain) in NYC?

May. 02 2013 12:19 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Not only *our* children--is any child labor used in mining the lead or manufacturing the batteries?

May. 02 2013 12:19 PM

What's considered "exposure" to lead? When looking at houses, I was told that lead only affects kids' health if the kids are eating or playing with paint chips. I was told that if it just stays under new paint, etc. it can't affect us.

May. 02 2013 12:14 PM

Delinquency, crime, homocide rates all go down when lead contaminants are removed from their environment. Fresh Air's interview yesterday with Andrew Raine is an interesting concurrence here.

May. 02 2013 12:13 PM
neil from Vero Beach, FL

What about exposure from living within 1/4 mile of small aircraft airports? Those small types of aircraft are still allowed to use lead in their fuel. This in effect crop dusts oblivious families. The University of Michigan, I believe, has done studies on that subject.

May. 02 2013 12:11 PM

1. Did the lead industry (esp. paint manufacturers) know about the dangers of lead for years before admitting anything (much like the tobacco did on the dangers of smoking)?

2. Is lead in water in buildings with old pipe a problem?

May. 02 2013 12:10 PM

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