How a Philadelphia doctor changed the way we think about lead poisoning

Dr. Alan Leviton (left), Dr. Herbert Needleman, and Dr. David Bellinger at the Charles A. Dana Foundation Award ceremony in 1989. Needleman won an award for his research on lead poisoning. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Bellinger)

Dr. Alan Leviton (left), Dr. Herbert Needleman, and Dr. David Bellinger at the Charles A. Dana Foundation Award ceremony in 1989. Needleman won an award for his research on lead poisoning. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Bellinger)

In the 1970s, Dr. Herbert Needleman published a study linking lead exposure in children to IQ deficits and learning disabilities.

His research was partially responsible for the ban on lead in gasoline. And since then, dozens of studies have shown the same health effects.

Needleman has spent the rest of his life trying to get the lead out of kids’ homes. But in 2016, children are still exposed to it.

I told Needleman’s story in this piece for Keystone Crossroads. A version of the story ran on NPR.