California/Milbank Books on Health and the Public

Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children

April 15, 2013 | Gerald Markowitz, David Rosner, Co-published with and distributed by the University of California Press

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.

Reviews

Lead Wars clearly shows that the scandalous and tragic history of lead is one that our society is doomed to repeat over and over again unless we develop and fight for better safeguards against chemicals and new technology.”—Mother Nature Network

“In Lead Wars, CUNY’s Gerald Markowitz and Columbia University’s David Rosner convincingly show that the Baltimore toddler study emerged from a century of policymaking in which the US government, faced at times with a choice between protecting children from lead poisoning and protecting the businesses that produced and marketed lead paint, almost invariably chose the latter.”—New York Review of Books

326 pages
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