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Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children (California/Milbank Books on Health and the Public)

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In this incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner focus on one of the most contentious and bitter battles in the history of public health. Lead Wars details how the nature of the epidemic has changed and highlights the dilemmas public health agencies face today in terms of prevention strategies and chronic illnes In this incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner focus on one of the most contentious and bitter battles in the history of public health. Lead Wars details how the nature of the epidemic has changed and highlights the dilemmas public health agencies face today in terms of prevention strategies and chronic illness linked to low levels of toxic exposure. The authors use the opinion by Maryland’s Court of Appeals—which considered whether researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s prestigious Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) engaged in unethical research on 108 African-American children—as a springboard to ask fundamental questions about the practice and future of public health. Lead Wars 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 environments and the bodies of American children.


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In this incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner focus on one of the most contentious and bitter battles in the history of public health. Lead Wars details how the nature of the epidemic has changed and highlights the dilemmas public health agencies face today in terms of prevention strategies and chronic illnes In this incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner focus on one of the most contentious and bitter battles in the history of public health. Lead Wars details how the nature of the epidemic has changed and highlights the dilemmas public health agencies face today in terms of prevention strategies and chronic illness linked to low levels of toxic exposure. The authors use the opinion by Maryland’s Court of Appeals—which considered whether researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s prestigious Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) engaged in unethical research on 108 African-American children—as a springboard to ask fundamental questions about the practice and future of public health. Lead Wars 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 environments and the bodies of American children.

30 review for Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children (California/Milbank Books on Health and the Public)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barron Lerner

    This is simply top-notch history by (disclaimer) former colleagues of mine at Columbia. By this point, many of us are familiar with what has been called the "tobacco wars," how cigarette companies conspired to dupe the public about the dangers of its product and how they were finally outed. Was the same thing going on in the world of lead? You bet. Particularly with respect to lead paint, but also other products, the lead industry manipulated data and misled the public and investigators in order This is simply top-notch history by (disclaimer) former colleagues of mine at Columbia. By this point, many of us are familiar with what has been called the "tobacco wars," how cigarette companies conspired to dupe the public about the dangers of its product and how they were finally outed. Was the same thing going on in the world of lead? You bet. Particularly with respect to lead paint, but also other products, the lead industry manipulated data and misled the public and investigators in order to sell its product--even as it was leading to lead toxicity among vulnerable children. As in the cigarette story, Markowitz and Rosner use the materials obtained during court cases to expose the perfidy of industry. This is a powerful book to read. It is almost exhilarating watching the authors use their evidence to build their case. But it is also appalling to see what went on--and still goes on--right under our noses. This is a terrific case study in the history of public health control efforts.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    What an excellent book to read as I start a job in lead poisoning prevention. Lots of background on such a significant public health issue. It is different than tobacco because people make a choice at some point to start smoking and keep smoking (except for those exposed to second hand smoke). Lead is insidious though...often invisible dust is the culprit in our homes. Wish I had read this before moving into our charming 100 year old house. It will be interesting to see where the "wars" end up. What an excellent book to read as I start a job in lead poisoning prevention. Lots of background on such a significant public health issue. It is different than tobacco because people make a choice at some point to start smoking and keep smoking (except for those exposed to second hand smoke). Lead is insidious though...often invisible dust is the culprit in our homes. Wish I had read this before moving into our charming 100 year old house. It will be interesting to see where the "wars" end up. California just won a lawsuit against the lead industries. Over a billion to clean up the lead paint. What will happen with the lead industries appeal?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Layla Johnston

    How did Johns Hopkins and 2 of the most prominent lead researchers in the scientific community design a study that led to the poisoning of previously healthy children? A thorough and detailed account of the politics of environmental pollution and poisoning of the poor by the (fully aware of the toxicity of its product) lead industry. Easily understood by someone without a policy analysis background. Highly recommended for all parents, political scientists, environmental activists, and frankly, a How did Johns Hopkins and 2 of the most prominent lead researchers in the scientific community design a study that led to the poisoning of previously healthy children? A thorough and detailed account of the politics of environmental pollution and poisoning of the poor by the (fully aware of the toxicity of its product) lead industry. Easily understood by someone without a policy analysis background. Highly recommended for all parents, political scientists, environmental activists, and frankly, anyone who cares about justice in the United States.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    Gerald E. Markowitz’s Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children is the history of lead contamination in the United States and the subsequent political and legal conflicts. The basic science of lead toxicity was known relatively early on in the 20th Century—there is a level where lead causes overt symptoms in those expose to it—but lower level toxicity was not well understood until the second half of the 20th century. Although the scientific knowledge has evolved and i Gerald E. Markowitz’s Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children is the history of lead contamination in the United States and the subsequent political and legal conflicts. The basic science of lead toxicity was known relatively early on in the 20th Century—there is a level where lead causes overt symptoms in those expose to it—but lower level toxicity was not well understood until the second half of the 20th century. Although the scientific knowledge has evolved and improved over time, the legal and political conflicts remain almost intractable, especially where abatement for building with lead paint is concerned. One of the more striking features of this book is the parallels between the strategy used by the tobacco companies as the dangers of smoking became known, and the strategy used by the lead industry as the dangers of lead became known. Like the tobacco industry, the lead industry first tried to deny there were hazards and then attempted to discredit the science. This book is detailed and thorough and worthwhile read for anyone interested in why lead remains such a source of controversy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Fitzpatrick

    This is a very detailed look at the struggle to get lead paint and leaded gas away from children. It starts in the 1920s, and is a continuation of "Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution" by the same author. At times the level of detail is a bit overwhelming. It seems like EVERY paper ever written about the dangers of lead is addressed. But even in small doses this book is illumination. It makes it very clear that even a small amount of lead is extremely damaging to the m This is a very detailed look at the struggle to get lead paint and leaded gas away from children. It starts in the 1920s, and is a continuation of "Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution" by the same author. At times the level of detail is a bit overwhelming. It seems like EVERY paper ever written about the dangers of lead is addressed. But even in small doses this book is illumination. It makes it very clear that even a small amount of lead is extremely damaging to the mental development of a child. Meanwhile the lead industry was determined to base the legal level of "safe" lead on the amount that it takes to actually kill an adult. We are given specific numbers on the number of homes containing lead paint, and the cost of completely cleaning them. The research that the Kennedy Krieger Institute of John Hopkins University did on the development of children in homes with varying degrees of lead cleanup is a primary focus.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Guy Cabell

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Selvey

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  10. 5 out of 5

    roxanne May

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ginny

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Thompson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jamie M

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick J

  19. 5 out of 5

    Felisha Michelle

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Mix

  21. 4 out of 5

    September Williams

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Randy

  24. 4 out of 5

    David McCracken

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  26. 5 out of 5

    J. Paul

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sue gunderson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jake Coffey

  30. 4 out of 5

    Syd

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