The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recklessly misled the public about the safety of lead levels in the water in Washington, D.C. between 2001 and 2004, according to a disturbing and damning congressional report released last month.
The Report, “A Public Health Tragedy: How Flawed CDC Data and Faulty Assumptions Endangered Children’s Health,” was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and Technology.
The congressional investigation found that a 2004 CDC report that was rushed to calm the fears of the public after the D.C. lead scare used flawed data to come to the inaccurate conclusion that lead levels in the water were safe. The discredited report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), has since been widely quoted by media and government agencies across the nation to tell the public that drinking water containing high levels of lead is not a health hazard.
Environmental health problems often affect poor, minority residents disproportionately. In D.C., lead levels were worst in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, in Southeast and Northeast. See a Washington Post map of lead test results from 2003 to 2004.
More examples of how environmental problems affect disadvantaged people, and how fetuses, infants, and young children are affected most by toxicants is seen in CNN’s series “Toxic America” June 2 and 3 as Sanjay Gupta reports on environmental health hazards.
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