As COVID-19 reshapes our economy, our newsletter will help you unpack the news from the day.
Cases of bottled water are still being delivered to Flint, Michigan, but the lead problem in America doesn’t stop there. Houses across the country have lead in the walls, and we’ve known about the damaging effects for a long time. David Rosner is the author of “Lead Wars,” and also a professor of the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University.
On the industrial use of lead:
It’s basically a product that was useful throughout the 20th century and unfortunately was understood to be a major industrial problem both in the 19th and early 20th centuries for industrial workers and then was identified as a childhood poison, that literally caused neurological problems among children in the 19-teens and 1920s in this country.
On lead in homes:
Certainly right now, the walls of the nation are the most serious hazard for housing that was built between 1920 and 1970 or so. All of those walls probably have lead. If we identified houses where children were living or where young couples were moving in planning to have kids, we probably could handle it fairly systematically but the problem is there are enormous costs. We have to make decisions about whether the financial cost is worth the cost to our children’s lives.
Produced by Mukta Mohan.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.