In recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 20-26, 2019), the National Library of Medicine announces This Lead Is Killing Us: A History of Citizens Fighting Lead Poisoning in Their Communities, an online exhibition that opened October 15. This Lead Is Killing Us tells an important story of citizen action taken against an environmental danger. Lead exposure can cause neurological problems and sometimes even death; yet this metal has been pervasive in many aspects of American life for over a century. Historically, mining, battery manufacturing, smelting, and enameling industries included lead in their production processes, impacting factory workers and consumers. Manufacturers added lead to household paints and gasoline, endangering the health of families and polluting the air through exhaust fumes. To protect themselves against the dangers of lead poisoning, scientists, families, and individuals opposed industries, housing authorities, and elected officials.
The online exhibition includes an education component featuring a new K-12 lesson plan that challenges students to examine historical cases of lead poisoning through primary and secondary sources. A digital gallery features a curated selection of fully digitized items from NLM Digital Collections that showcase numerous historical scientific studies and reports about the dangers of lead. A companion traveling banner exhibition is coming soon. For more information, join the Making Exhibition Connections listserv, a place to learn, share, and find out what’s happening and what’s new with NLM Traveling Exhibitions.