Leif Fredrickson to Give Pubic Lecture this Monday (2/19) morning: “The Age of Lead: How Suburbanization Poisoned the Inner City”

Dr. Leif Fredrickson, Ambrose Monell Fellow in Technology and Democracy at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, will give a public lecture this Monday, February 19th at 9 AM. The lecture will be held in Burdine (BUR) 214, and will feature a question and answer period following the lecture.

Fredrickson will lecture on a key aspect of his research: the link between mid-century processes of suburbanization and the environmental degradation of inner cities. Specifically, Fredrickson’s talk will examine the history of lead poisoning in Baltimore and the nation, exploring how metropolitan development – especially suburbanization – produced or exacerbated unequal lead exposure to across racial, spatial, and class lines. Suburbanites and suburban development benefited from lead-related technologies, such as lead piping, lead-solder, lead-acid batteries and leaded gasoline. These benefits were often not shared by those in the inner city, however. Moreover, many of the pollution externalities of these technologies were foisted onto the residents of the inner city. This was particularly true of leaded gasoline used by suburban commuters. But the production and recycling of other lead products, such as lead-acid batteries, was also concentrated in the inner city, and so was the pollution from these products. In addition, suburbanization increased lead hazards in the inner city by accelerating housing deterioration, which exacerbated lead paint hazards. Some suburbanites even benefited more directly from this housing deterioration through their profitable ownership of slum housing in the inner city. Suburbanites, meanwhile, were able to carve out healthier, and wealthier, environments on the metropolitan periphery.

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