The Age of Lead: Metropolitan Development, Environmental Health, and Inner City Underdevelopment
Leif Fredrickson’s dissertation, “The Age of Lead: Metropolitan Development, Environmental Health, and Inner City Underdevelopment,” seeks to answer two questions. First, how did twentieth-century metropolitan development affect lead exposure? To answer this, Fredrickson examines how policies and markets came together to affect energy, housing, and transportation infrastructures that led to increased and often disproportionate exposure from lead in sources such as paint, gasoline and batteries. His second question is: How did lead exposure affect individuals, communities and governments in the metropolis? To answer this, Fredrickson examines how lead affected education, income, medical expenses and other social outcomes for individuals, and how those effects in turn shaped the outcomes of families and communities. He argues that these effects contributed to the long-term inequalities we see across classes, races, and metropolitan areas (i.e., the suburbs and the inner city). Fredrickson also looks at how victims and their families and communities dealt with these problems, proactively and retroactively. Finally, Fredrickson examines how the ramifying effects of lead challenged local governments, who faced expensive measures to eradicate lead poisoning but also expensive costs from failing to eradicate lead problems.