Racism is still rampant in our country, and it might exist in places you didn’t expect it. For example, Black and Brown populations are at a higher risk of exposure to environmental toxins and have less access to high-quality medical care or clinical medical studies on their specific populations.
This is a major problem that can’t be ignored. And it’s hugely impacting our economy and the success of future generations in multiple ways. Every year we spend 50 billion dollars and lose 23 million IQ points to lead toxicity alone, which affects people of color the most, regardless of social class and income level.
Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy I sit down for an important conversation with Harriet Washington about these issues. Harriet has been the Shearing Fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute, a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, and a visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law. She has held fellowships at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Stanford University. She is the author of Deadly Monopolies, Infectious Madness, and Medical Apartheid, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and the American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award. Her new book, A Terrible Thing to Waste, is a “powerful and indispensable” looks at the devastating consequences of environmental racism—and what we can do to remedy its toxic effects on marginalized communities.
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Here are more of the details from our interview:
Communities of color in America are being poisoned as a result of decisions and policies that expose them to dangerous levels of environmental toxins (5:29)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sanctioned case of toxic dumping in Afton, North Carolina (12:25)
Lead poisoning, its effects on intelligence and cognition, and the populations it is most affecting (16:12)
The lack of precautionary testing of chemicals in the United States (22:24)
Unacknowledged fetal alcohol damage in Hispanic and African American communities (31:13)
Environmental toxin rates among African American communities across all income levels (33:54)
How to effectively test for and treat environmental toxin issues (39:38)
What actions individuals and communities can take to protect themselves from environmental toxins (44:29)
The connection between environmental racism and food injustice (48:39)
The role that government, communities, and public health needs to play in protecting citizens from environmental toxins (1:06:57)
Harriet Washington’s most recent book is A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind.
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