The political ecology of lead poisoning in eastern North Carolina

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Abstract

In the United States, childhood blood lead levels have dropped substantially since 1991, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented new screening guidelines. Many states, including North Carolina, have established successful screening and intervention programs. Still, pockets of higher lead poisoning rates continue to be a problem in some geographic areas. One of these areas consists of several counties in eastern North Carolina. This cluster of higher rates cannot be explained by poverty and housing characteristics alone. Instead, the explanation requires an understanding of place that encompasses a range of historical, social, political, and economic processes. This paper utilizes a political ecology approach to provide a deeper understanding of how these processes can contribute to ill health.

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