Lead is political

Great column from Nicholas  Kristof:

In Flint, 4.9 percent of children tested for lead turned out to have elevated levels. That’s inexcusable. But in 2014 in New York State outside of New York City, the figure was 6.7 percent. In Pennsylvania, 8.5 percent. On the west side of Detroit, one-fifth of the children tested in 2014 had lead poisoning. In Iowa for 2012, the most recent year available, an astonishing 32 percent of children tested had elevated lead levels. (I calculated most of these numbers from C.D.C. data.)

Across America, 535,000 children ages 1 through 5 suffer lead poisoning, by C.D.C. estimates…

Yet anti-lead programs have been dismantled in recent years because in 2012 Congress slashed the funding for lead programs at the C.D.C. by 93 percent. [emphases mine] After an outcry, some money was restored, but even now these lead programs have only a bit more than half the funding they once had.

Lead poisoning is an old problem: An Australian doctor, Lockhart Gibson, diagnosed the first case in 1904.

Then in 1943, a doctor in Boston encountered a young boy who had tried to stab his teacher, and remembered that the same boy had suffered lead poisoning years earlier. Researchers soon found that early exposure to lead impairs brain development and is strongly associated with later violent or criminal behavior.

Yet the lead industry ferociously fought attempts at regulation. It wasn’t until the 1970s and ’80s that lead was largely removed from gasoline, and until 2008 that a regulation reduced lead in paint to a reasonable level. Millions of children continue to suffer brain impairment because of the greed of the lead industry…

Today the continuing poisoning of half a million American children is tolerated partly because the victims often are low-income children of color.

Truly appalling that our country lacks the political will to stop poisoning any of our children with lead.

Advertisements

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

4 Responses to Lead is political

  1. ohwilleke says:

    There is disagreement over how great the impact was, but nobody seriously disputes that lead abatement and the corresponding reduction of lead poisoning in children, was one factor that contributed to the massive decline in crime rates we have seen since the 1990s.

  2. itchy says:

    “Lead poisoning is an old problem: An Australian doctor, Lockhart Gibson, diagnosed the first case in 1904.”

    Uh, he can go back farther. Isn’t it accepted that ancient Rome had problems with lead poisoning?

    From the EPA itself:

    http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/lead-poisoning-historical-perspective

    “Most important of all was lead’s suitability as inexpensive and reliable piping for the vast network plumbing that kept Rome and the provincial cities of the Roman Empire supplied with water. Indeed, the very word “plumbing” comes from the Latin word for lead, plumbum.”

    Element 82, Pb.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: