“Extrapolating from present information, …probably… it will be shown in the future that average American adults experience a variety of significant physiological and intellectual dysfunctions caused by long-term chronic lead insult to their bodies and minds which results from excess exposures to industrial lead that are five hundred-fold above natural levels of lead exposure, and that such dysfunctions on this massive scale may have significantly influenced the course of American history.” -Clair Patterson, 1980. Patterson was responsible for conclusively demonstrating the dangers of leaded gasoline, although as a side project for determining the age of the Earth.
I found that quote on this site, which includes fearsome maps of lead contamination in air and soil of many major cities. In particular the map of lead poisoning in Chicago is almost exactly a racial map, with major black communities having close to 100% of children with “concerning” levels of lead (5 ug/dL and up). Soils in downtown areas frequently reach 0.1% lead or higher.
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