Stony Brook professor Christopher Sellers warns of the dangers of lead poisoning to the health of African-Americans in an op-ed appearing on CNN’s website.
Pointing to the impending trial of Baltimore police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, who may have been injured by childhood lead poisoning, Sellers and co-author Jay Turner call for renewed efforts to clean up toxic metals in American neighborhoods. The problem of lead contamination, they argue, is especially acute in impoverished and African-American communities.
Childhood lead poisoning, they write, can cause “irreversible brain and nerve damage, can manifest in the very difficulties that bothered Gray from early on: limited attention span, dropping out of school, impulsive aggression, and other behavioral problems that scientists have clearly connected to the neurotoxicity of this noxious metal.”
The co-authors propose a victims fund, modeled on those for sufferers from asbestos, 9/11, or Agent Orange, as a starting point for remediation of lead poisoning.
Christopher Sellers is a professor of history at Stony Brook University who also trained as a physician He is co-editor of “Dangerous Trade: Histories of Industrial Hazard across a Globalizing World,” and is author of a forthcoming history of the lead and petrochemical industries in Texas and Mexico.