Poverty’s Poison: Understanding the Lead Crisis in the U.S. and Chicago

Lead is often referred to as "poverty’s poison" because lead poisoning is most prevalent in young children living in inner-city communities of color stamped with an industrial footprint. The lead crisis in Flint, MI produced splashy and breathless coverage by the mainstream media, giving the impression that lead contamination is a recent phenomenon. In actuality, lead contamination dates back to the days of the Roman Bacchanalia. One upside to the Flint crisis is that it has re-invigorated a much needed national discussion about the health impacts of lead exposure, environmental racism, and environmental justice issues afflicting low income communities of color whose young children are most susceptible to blood lead poisoning. However, when put into appropriate context, there are many cities struggling with lead contamination issues that are equal to or even worse than Flint, including Chicago and New Orleans. In this seminar we will discuss the history of lead production and usage in the U.S., the general health effects of lead contamination, lead as an environmental justice issue, the events leading to the Flint crisis, and the history of lead contamination in Chicago. Dr. Montgomery will also share some results of his "What’s In Your Soil" project designed to characterize and map soil lead in Chicago neighborhoods. Participants in this seminar will have the opportunity to bring in a soil sample for FREE nutrient and lead testing by Dr. Montgomery and his students in the environmental soil science lab at DePaul. So get the lead out and sign up for this informative seminar!