Cities like Baltimore Still Suffer From the Toxic Legacy of Lead Contamination

Re-blog: Freddie Gray’s murder has brought to light a pressing health concern: lead poisoning resulting from long-term exposure to lead-based paint in the homes, churches, and stores in Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods.

The Washington Post and TIME have noted that lead poisoning may play an important role in determining what happened to Freddie Gray. The Post discovered that from 1992 to 1996, Gray lived in a house which had walls and window sills covered with dry, peeling strips of lead paint.

Gray and his two sisters filed a lawsuit against the owner of the house they lived in because of the toxic paint.


The Sandtown neighborhood of Baltimore has all the markers of the depressed inner city. Unemployment is high, drug abuse is rampant and many houses are vacant and dilapidated. Less apparent—but equally insidious—is the prevalence of lead poisoning.

More than a decade before Freddie Gray suffered a fatal injury while in custody of the Baltimore Police Department, the Maryland native was allegedly the victim of the neurotoxin that contaminated the walls and windows in the dilapidated home where he grew up, according to a report in the Washington Post. Gray reportedly struggled academically, accumulated a criminal record and had trouble focusing—all outcomes associated with the long-term effects of lead poisoning.

Gray was not alone. Hundreds of thousands of young Americans were exposed to lead during their childhood, and, for many, the poisoning has been associated with dramatic problems in their day-to-day lives as adults. And despite the fact that lead…

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2 thoughts on “Cities like Baltimore Still Suffer From the Toxic Legacy of Lead Contamination

  1. There’s a blogger by the name of Kevin Drum at Mother Jones ( who has done a lot of writing on this subject. Basically, his theory is that the high crime rates of a couple of decades ago had a lot to do with lead poisoning and one of the reasons for the reduced crime rate since is the reduction in exposure to lead. It’s an interesting idea.

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