Scientists to Moyers: Lead poisoning ‘doesn’t kill anymore’ but there are new ‘troubling problems’

By Kay Steiger
Friday, May 17, 2013 15:16 EDT
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Bill Moyers (Screenshot)
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Bill Moyers took on the regulatory failures that led to lead poisoning when he interviewed David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz about their new book, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children.

“As long as there are insufficient checks and balances on big business and its powerful lobbies, you and I are at their mercy. Which is why their ability to buy off public officials is an assault on democracy and a threat to our lives and health,” Moyers opened the segment.

Gerald Markowitz, a professor who teaches at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, pointed out that while lead poisoning prevention has come a long way, there are still problems.

“You know, in some ways the story of lead is a great success. We’ve reduced the amount of lead in children’s blood and we’ve gotten lead out of gasoline and we’ve gotten lead out of paint. But there are still children who have too much lead in their blood. And it is endangering their life chances, endangering their futures,” he said.

Co-author David Rosner, co-director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University, said the new problems with lead are more nefarious.

“It doesn’t kill anymore. It used to send kids into convulsions, into comas and into paroxysms and ultimately killed them up until the 1980s. But we’ve gotten lead levels down to the point where we’re now discovering new, even in some sense, more troubling problems,” he said.

“We really made a morally bankrupt calculation that it is less costly to endanger the health and futures of our children rather than to protect them by paying to remove lead from their homes,” Markowitz said.

Watch the full interview, posted on BillMoyers.com, below.

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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