Featured Document: Lead and the Blame Game


We've blogged previously about The Lead Papers, our collection of 70,000+ documents on lead. We'll finish importing all of them next week.

We recently discussed a document that showed one way the lead industry tried to influence public debate. In it, members of a trade group met with NBC News executives and compared lead to coffee, noting that both could kill you in large enough amounts and implying that smaller amounts were not harmful. Even at the time, however, the industry knew of research demonstrating the problems that could arise with even small amounts.

This week's document sheds light on another common rhetorical strategy: blaming parents. In it, the Lead Industries Association's Manfred Bowditch, repeatedly writes that a big driver of childhood lead poisoning is... parents.


Here are some excerpts:

That of some, but secondary importance is lead paint mistakenly applied by ignorant parents to cribs, play pens and other juvenile furniture and subsequently chewed off and ingested.

That childhood lead poisoning is essentially a problem of slum dwellings and relatively ignorant parents.

That, until we can find means to (a) get rid of our slums, and (b) educate the relatively ineducable parent, the problem will continue to plague us.

And finally that, if you know the answer to those two, you are even more of a genius than I think you.

Whether it's parents or a more environmental source -- "slums" -- everything but the lead industry itself seems to be culpable in this line of thinking.