Baltimore Sun Publishes Opinion Pieces, Features Related to Lead Poisoning Study Conducted in East Baltimore Black Community
The Baltimore Sun recently featured two opinion pieces related to a lead poisoning study conducted by Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Summaries appear below.
- Gary Goldstein/Michael Klag: The reasons why compost was used for the lead poisoning study conducted in East Baltimore "has been lost in the furor" over the details of the study and the authors' motives, Goldstein -- president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger -- and Klag -- dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health -- write in a Sun opinion piece. Lead poisoning, which "can cause incurable neurological damage and other health problems," has long been "a problem of epidemic proportions" in East Baltimore, according to Goldstein and Klag. They add that the study sought to identify ways Kennedy Krieger physicians could "prevent" the problem instead of continuing "treating thousands of East Baltimore children in their lead poisoning clinic." Goldstein and Klag write that researchers already "knew that iron and phosphorus in compost can bind with lead" and lower the chances of poisoning if consumed, but, "The question was: How well would using compost work in a real neighborhood?" A year after the study, levels of bioaccessible lead in the soil were down by two-thirds, according to Goldstein and Klag. The authors add that researchers "did appropriate consultation with the local community" and received formal approval for the study from the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition. They continue, "This completely ethical, highly successful research is only one of the many fronts in the war against lead poisoning of Baltimore's children," concluding, "It's also important to remember that in this particular effort to combat lead, the researchers' hands are clean" (Goldstein/Klag, Baltimore Sun, 4/28).
- Dan Rodricks: "We've grown so used to hearing opinions we forget what facts sound like," Rodricks, a columnist for the Sun, writes in an opinion piece, adding that the "facts" of the lead poisoning study "did not stop certain community leaders, including those with the NAACP, from sounding more alarms and questioning the motives and methods of the experiment." He adds that while "[w]e understand and appreciate why black American adults would have this kind of reaction ... the enemies in East Baltimore do not work at Johns Hopkins." According to Rodricks, the "enemies in East Baltimore ... are poverty, ignorance, addictions and crime." He adds that black community leaders in Baltimore should urge Johns Hopkins researchers to "launch the medical equivalent of the war on drugs, with treatment on demand, multiple therapies and holistic recovery" (Rodricks, Baltimore Sun, 5/1).
The Sun on Thursday also published two features related to the lead poisoning study and the researchers involved. Headlines appear below.
- "Recalling Farfel's Research: East Baltimore Resident Recollects Public Health Study" (Bor, Baltimore Sun, 5/1).
- "Researcher Faces Outcry: Trying To Abate Lead, He Has Been Accused of Exposing Kids To It" (Bor/Kohn, Baltimore Sun, 5/1).