Home > Uncategorized > Getting the Lead Out A Good Example of Government Acting on Scientific Evidence

Getting the Lead Out A Good Example of Government Acting on Scientific Evidence

Paul Krugman’s column on September 2 described our country’s decision to allow the poisoning of thousands of children due to lead contamination to continue. Why? Two reasons: the children are almost all poor and minorities; and the solution to the problem would involve government intervention and cost lots of money. And how do politicians explain this decision to ignore this state of affairs? By denying the scientific evidence or accepting evidence gathered by “scientists” funded by corporate donors.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve witnessed it before with cigarettes, with acid rain, with lead paint and tetra-ethyl lead in gasoline (both eventually outlawed), and with flouro-carbons, which were also eventually outlawed. But we are also witnessing it now in our denial of climate change, in our continued unwillingness to get the lead out of water in many communities across the country… and in our continued belief that we don’t need to address poverty in order to improve our public schools. Indeed, Krugman emphasizes the link between lead in the water and education:

But I’ve just been reading a new study by a team of economists and health experts confirming the growing consensus that even low levels of lead in children’s bloodstreams have significant adverse effects on cognitive performance. And lead exposure is still strongly correlated with growing up in a disadvantaged household.

But how can this be going on in a country that claims to believe in equality of opportunity? Just in case it’s not obvious: Children who are being poisoned by their environment don’t have the same opportunities as children who aren’t.

I guess it isn’t obvious to those who insist on administering standardized tests to children who are being poisoned by their environment and then concluding that their poor performance is the result of attending “over-regulated government schools”.

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