The horrific and avoidable events in Flint have resulted in expansive coverage on lead poisoning, with a focus on lead in paint, and in water. The popular satirical news shows Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore each recently featured segments on lead: Oliver’s Lead and Wilmore’s Super Depressing Deep Dive – The Originals of America’s Lead Poisoning Crisis.
Because of the debacle in Flint, Michigan that led to contaminated water supplies, the media and legislators are focusing attention on the problem of children being poisoned by lead. It isn’t just a problem in Flint, or a handful of cities in the US. The New York Times features Cleveland in its March 3, 2016 article.
As increasing attention is paid to the scourge of lead poisoning, and its history in our inner cities, The Conversation published a piece in February exploring the link between postwar suburban development and today’s inner-city lead poisoning, with proposals for new funding sources . See https://theconversation.com/the-surprising-link-between-postwar-suburban-development-and-todays-inner-city-lead-poisoning-54453.
The Chicago Tribune continues its series examining how the City responds to concern about lead poisoning in homes – both through lead paint and lead in water. To see the full article go to http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-chicago-lead-pipes-water-testing-met-20160226-story.html.
The outrage over Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water supply should serve as a wakeup call about the problem of lead poisoning more broadly and its sources. While attention should not/cannot move away from Flint, fixing Flint’s pipes will not be sufficient to protect its children from the harms of an even greater source of lead poisoning, lead paint. In his February 7th column, Nicholas Kristof quotes a former CDC official, “Flint is a teachable moment for America.” Read more.
Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for its series shining a light on childhood lead poisoning. This is one of the few causes of social and learning problems we know how to solve, yet we have not provided adequate resources to get the job done. Countries that banned the sale of paint in the early twentieth century are not facing the same problems.