Leigh Shemitz

Leigh Shemitz

The lessons of lead become clear and can mark the foundation of a paradigm for understanding and responding to environmental health hazards now and into the future.

2000 Urban Fellow

Research Topic: Environment and Public Health

Faculty Advisor: John Wargo

Drawing upon the Lessons of Lead Poisoning to Build a Paradigm for Understanding Environmental Health: A Study of the History, Science and Policy of Lead Poisoning

Scientists who study environment health problems face a host of unknown factors. Asthma research, for example, is on a steep learning curve as researchers investigate all aspects of the disease, including the extent of environmental factors. The future might seem to appear uncharted. But scientists have the benefit of the experience of the investigation and subsequent regulation of lead in the environment and can draw upon this body of work to help guide the investigation of the impact of other environmental pollutants on human health. Researchers understand the human health effects of lead exposure and the movement of lead through the environment better than any other introduced substance. (Thomas 1995) While research continues1, scientific understanding about lead in the environment is nonetheless substantial. (Millstone 1997) The case of lead in the environment, and the years of policy and regulation that have grown from it, offer valuable insights into the human health-environment dynamic.