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A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind

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A "powerful and indispensable book" on the devastating consequences of environmental racism--and what we can do to remedy its toxic effects on marginalized communities.

Did you know...

Middle-class African-American households with incomes between $50,000 and $60,000 live in neighborhoods that are more polluted than those of very poor white households with incomes less than $10,000.

When swallowed, a lead-paint chip no larger than a fingernail can send a toddler into a coma. One-tenth of that amount will lower IQ.

Nearly two out of every five African-American homes in Baltimore are plagued by lead-based paint. Almost all of the 37,500 Baltimore children who suffered lead poisoning from 2003 to 2015 were African-American.

From injuries caused by lead poisoning to the devastating effects of atmospheric pollution, infectious disease, and industrial waste, Americans of color are harmed by environmental hazards in staggeringly disproportionate numbers. This systemic onslaught of toxic exposure and institutional negligence causes irreparable physical harm to millions of people across the country--cutting lives tragically short and needlessly burdening the health care system. But these deadly environments create another insidious and often overlooked consequence: robbing communities of color, and America as a whole, of intellectual power.

The 1994 publication of The Bell Curve and its controversial thesis, catapulted the topic of genetic racial differences in IQ to the forefront of a renewed and heated debate. Now, in A Terrible Thing to Waste, award-winning science writer Harriet A. Washington adds her incisive analysis to the fray, arguing that IQ is a biased and flawed metric, but that it is useful for tracking cognitive damage. She tears apart the spurious notion of intelligence as an inherited trait, using copious data that instead point to a different cause of the reported African American-white IQ gap: environmental racism--a confluence of racism and other institutional factors that relegate marginalized communities to living and working near sites of toxic waste, pollution, and insufficient sanitation services. She investigates heavy metals, neuro-toxins, deficient prenatal care, bad nutrition, and even pathogens as chief agents influencing intelligence to explain why communities of color are disproportionately affected--and what can be done to remedy this devastating problem.

Featuring extensive scientific research and Washington's sharp, lively reporting, A Terrible Thing to Waste is sure to outrage, transform the conversation, and inspire debate.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published July 23, 2019

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About the author

Harriet A. Washington

10 books392 followers
Harriet Washington is the author of Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself and of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, which won the 2007 National Book Critics’ Circle Award and was named one of the year’s Best Books by Publishers’ Weekly. She has won many other awards for her work on medicine and ethics and has been a Research Fellow in Ethics at Harvard Medical School, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, a Knight Fellow at Stanford University, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University and a Visiting Scholar at the DePaul University College of Law.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 173 reviews
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,186 followers
June 16, 2020
An infuriating exposé detailing how minority children are being poisoned in America

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind is meticulously researched and shows how those in poor and minority communities in America are routinely exposed to toxins, ones that often affect brain development and lower IQs in children and fetuses.

The author Harriet A. Washington spends the first part of the book discussing IQ, what it is and what it isn't and why it's important in Western countries. She also shows how IQ testing can shed light on "environmental racism" -- racism that manifests itself through the government routinely allowing those in African American and Hispanic communities to be exposed to heavy metals, neuro-toxin and other chemicals known to be a hazard to both physical and mental health. Contrary to the racist myth that those of recent African descent (my stress on 'recent' is because we ALL originally came from Africa) have lower IQs, Ms. Washington shows how race does not factor into intelligence at all. There are no genes known to raise IQ and, as she notes, "the early experience of the brain and nervous system is far more important when it comes to intelligence.

In the second part of the book, Ms. Washington examines various toxins, such as mercury, lead, arsenic, PCBs, and many others. She discusses specific cases of poisoning, people and communities across the country, showing how environmental racism has impacted their lives and worsened their health. 

In the third and final section of the book, the author suggests various courses of action people can take within their own homes and communities to try to better protect themselves.

Though I appreciate the extensive amount of research Ms. Washington conducted, the book is as weighty as it is infuriating. I found it tedious and repetitive at times, which made it hard to focus my entire concentration as it deserves. It is packed with numerous statistics to back up the author's claims, something which I appreciate, even though it sometimes made the writing feel scholarly and dry.

I am glad to be made more aware of this blight on America. A Terrible Thing to Waste is an important book shedding light on a subject we as a country need to know about and desperately need to work to change.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,923 reviews1,258 followers
July 30, 2019
The common reaction to people seeing what I was reading with A Terrible Thing to Waste was, “Environmental racism? What’s that?” So I explained it to them, fairly succinctly I think, because it really isn’t that difficult of a concept. Indeed, when I mentioned that, historically, decisions about where to dump waste and where to build factories and how to zone cities or rent houses have disproportionately affected marginalized and racialized people, most of those who asked nodded and went, “Oh, yeah.” Maybe that’s just a sign of the crowd I hang out with. But it really isn’t that hidden, not in an era where we know the names Flint, Michigan in the United States and Grassy Narrows, here in Canada. Harriet A. Washington’s book isn’t edifying in the sense that it reveals this heretofore unseen racism. Rather, A Terrible Thing to Waste is electrifying in the depth to which Washington chronicles the scientific background of this phenomenon, the historical connections, and the social and economic consequences.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Washington begins with a frank discussion on IQ. I found this beneficial, and indeed, I appreciated the way in which she challenged some of my views. Aware of the racist associations with IQ testing, I was in the camp of “throw it all out.” Yet Washington points out that, although not really great for measuring general intelligence as it first claimed, IQ tests do seem to correlate with many of the skills that predict success in a lot of the office-type jobs that predominate in America these days. So in that sense, I guess I see the utility of such a measure, even if what we do with it is ill-advised. Washington reminds my privileged white self that as long as IQ is used in any serious form, it behoves us to try to level the playing field of IQ testing, as it were, rather than simply pretend it doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.

From there, of course, she delves into the nature of IQ testing and its racist background. Then she pivots into discussing neurotoxins (such as lead) and their effect, especially cumulatively and especially on children. I want to warn you: parts of this book are just heartbreaking. It’s sickening—and frankly should be sickening to any reader—to think that right now millions of people are exposed to debilitating toxins simply because of where they live. I challenge you to listen to how poor, Black families can’t even sell their homes because the pollution on their land has gutted the value, trapping them in a vicious cycle of toxic poverty.

Reading this book, I continually thought back to my country and our treatment of Indigenous peoples. I mentioned Grassy Narrows, famously a site of mercury contamination. But resource exploitation and colonialism go hand-in-hand in my country; hundreds of kilometres north of my city, the government and industry are anxiously attempting to build the Ring of Fire, a multi-billion-dollar mining operation for diamonds, chromite, and other important resources. The trouble is, this will inevitably result in environmental contamination—and it won’t be me who is exposed. It’ll be the First Nations who live in northern Ontario, some of them already in communities with poor drinking water. So Canada is little better than the States when it comes to this issue.

A Terrible Thing to Waste is laudable too in its multidimensional approach to this issue. Washington doesn’t just talk about lead poisoning or dumping, oh no. She talks about malnutrition. She talks about preventable, treatable diseases that rob us of brainpower. She covers so many aspects of this issue, each time relating it back to the fact that this is a race issue, because, as she says, even poor white communities are typically healthier than well-off Black communities. (She does note limitations of the research she uses. She says she wishes she could have explored poverty as a separate variable more, but that there is actually a dearth of data, especially when it comes to poor white people. And that is definitely a problem.)

Washington makes an interesting appeal to the reader in relating this problem to economic shortfalls. In addition, of course, to simply pointing out that this is racist and wrong, she argues that this hobbles America as an economic power. It diminishes the country's average IQ, and it robs the country of thousands of minds who might otherwise be bright, innovative, and useful. Honestly, this line of argument left me a little uneasy. I don’t like the idea of treating people as capital, of thinking about our potential based on how it impacts the bottom line. Nevertheless, I see what Washington is doing here. She’s trying to fight the racist capitalists on their own turf. She points out that the data do not support hereditarians who think “nothing can be done.” And thank goodness for that.

A Terrible Thing to Waste is harrowing and heartbreaking at points. It’s also chock full of logic, facts and figures, basically all sorts of cool science. It’s exactly the kind of non-fiction I want to read: social justice polemic backed up by research and challenging me to consider the ways in which our society fails marginalized people. Because I am a part of that society, and I need to know about this, in as much detail as I can handle, so I can start doing something about it. There was a time when companies lied to us and said lead was good for us. That time has passed. But the lies don’t go away; they just change costuming. We need to keep learning, and keep pressuring those in power, especially those of us who have the privilege of doing so in comfort and safety.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Lois .
1,763 reviews466 followers
July 28, 2019
This was incredibly well researched and while the subject matter is weighty, the writing style is easily accessible.
This is critical reading to understand the IMPACT of the IQ myth of the Black Community in the US and worldwide.
First many of the original West African Black subjects tested for IQ were orphaned children fleeing conflict. Also the researchers measuring the IQ were white supremacists. Both factors impact these original IQ scores.
Also nutrition and environment impact IQ scores.
The history of how this has been used is demoralizing.
I appreciate this crucial understanding of how IQ and Black identity intersect.
Also the IQ is NOT a measurement of intelligence, just in case you don't read the book.
188 reviews
February 2, 2020
Environmental racism is an incredibly important issue that is often ignored in our political zeitgeist, even within environmentalist circles. The strongest section of this book is the lead section, where she weaves a direct line from corporate greed through government irresponsibility through housing discrimination tied up with racism specifically against African Americans. It helps that a large chunk of the data and anecdata around environmental racism are lead-related, which points to why the later sections of the book are less coherent.

This book is disorganized. There's a common practice among academics of which I'm also guilty, which is that they'll scour the literature and then try to smash every single bit of data into their lit review, resulting in a paper that doesn't really flow but is technically complete. I feel that a lot here. There's a lot of, "oh, and also chlorpyrifos" and "and by the way here's one bit of data about Asians" without much context or transition, just a tossaway sentence that is there apparently because that's the only place it fit. The same can be said of the graphics, which range from inexplicable word clouds to random pictures of scientists to highly technical tables. None of the graphics are referred to in the text, making them seem like they were thrown in after the fact, and making it unclear why they were necessary at all.

There is a lot of tonal inconsistency, which makes this book frustrating to read. The effect of environmental racism on the brain is a particularly difficult task to study because many of the so-called markers of intelligence have their own correlations with racism, e.g. through the design of IQ tests, biases against black and brown children during diagnosis of learning disabilities, and school segregation and lack of universal pre-K leading to racial disparities in test scores and grades. While she directly addresses these correlations in one chapter, she goes on to rely on IQ as THE metric of intelligence in later chapters, mostly because that's just what data is available. Towards the end of the book, especially in the section on infectious diseases, the data on intelligence is so sparse that the argument becomes incoherent.

It's also difficult to cover environmental racism because these problems are structural and the people who are disproportionately affected have little power to fix the issue of, for example, exploitative and irresponsible landlords. Appropriately, she condemns those who stigmatize people of color, especially mothers of color, for not doing enough to address environmental hazards. However, if part of the structural issue is lack of information, wouldn't it be irresponsible not to share ways to, for example, avoid childhood lead poisoning? Rather than strike a balance between these two poles, she careens between them, at times saying, "It's not your fault" and other times saying, "You must do all of these things!" This is particularly acute in the later chapter where she bullet points an unbearable number of measures that people are supposed to take, including buying expensive water filters and not buying any food with plastic wrapping, advice that is unfeasible in many of the communities hardest hit by environmental racism, many are which are food deserts and have high rates of poverty. Who exactly was that chapter written for? The characters in Big Little Lies?

Particularly toward the end of the book, I found the data pile up to be unreadable, where it was just one statistic after another about a hazard lurking just behind you, that disproportionately affects people of color, with no context for why that is. Because the data seems to just not be there yet, I would have preferred a book that cut specifically across lead in predominantly black communities, the social and political sources of it, and systemic recourse required to address it. I feel like this book takes a pathologist's eye toward environmental hazards, but it needs a bit more of a political scientist's eye. The section on community organizing is about two pages of bullet points, where instead it needed a full chapter of examples of successful movements and specific proposed policy changes. Too much emphasis is placed on the individual and not enough on the system.
305 reviews9 followers
May 9, 2020
I want to say I enjoyed this book, but to be honest, it was a struggle to read. And not because of the material covered (I was prepared for the environmental racism, and learned much about the development of a child's mind), but because of the organization of the book itself. Frankly, it took too long to read this book, and by the end, I was skimming. It's poorly organized, repetitive, and easily distracted from one sentence to the next. Some of the data quoted confused me, such as a citation that the African American infant mortality is greater now than it was during enslavement. Additional, a quotation from WebMD did nothing to assuage my irritation at the book. The general material is important. Understanding environmental racism is important. I was fascinated by just how much development goes on early in life, and how so many environmental factors can hinder this growth. However, it was hard for me to continue reading when facts were constantly repeated and each sentence had little to do with the next. The second section is full of scientific jargon, which lost me at times, then followed up by a brief almost checklist of how to enact change, lead-proof one's home (even though this is impossible without full abatement as mentioned earlier), and a whole list of other suggestions that the average reader, much less someone aggressively experiencing environmental racism, most likely didn't even get to. I wanted to like this book, that's why I kept reading. I wanted to learn more, and I did. But this book needed another serious edit and restructuring before publication. This topic is too important to have wasted words and wasted pages. If you are interested in learning about environmental racism, you should reading this book. But you need only read the first chapter or so. I'm glad I read this book, but I was frustrated at the wrong thing the entire time.
Profile Image for Michael.
274 reviews763 followers
August 11, 2020
I want to note a few of the recurring trends in how big businesses deal with peddling toxic chemicals, for anyone wanting to identify what's going on in the rhetoric. This also applies equally to those companies who are currently profiting despite their negative impact on the environment, and their direct and easy to identify connection to the heating of this planet.

1. Get your product out there, toxic or not.
Have you already identified that your product has some minor problems? Is it causing employees who work with it major health problems, including insanity or death? No worries. Feel free to continue production. With lead, its health effects were well known BEFORE it was used as an additive for gasoline. Even acknowledging the harmful nature of the product in internal memos while contradicting this in your marketing materials is unlikely to bring about any actual repercussions, financial or otherwise.

2. Don't know if it's hazardous? Don't bother testing.
Just don't. You aren't required to test a new chemical before mass production, so why add steps? Move on to step 3.

3. Obfuscate.
Now your products are in the homes of people and are getting stuck in the mouths of babies. Suddenly, IQ rates are declining, health side effects are rising, the crime rate is going up. Some studies are indicating your product is responsible. But can they PROVE it beyond a shadow of a doubt? Can they eliminate all other possible factors? Can they recreate their findings?

Moreover, can they do this while you work to discredit and sue the scientists and academics doing the work to prove your product is to blame? Can their scientists out-argue the "scientists" you hire to make it look like there's no agreement?

With a reasonable effort, you should remain in stage 3 for decades at least.

4: Personal Responsibility + Racism = Profit.
It is a CHOICE to have bought and used your product, and the people who are getting sick are just using it wrong. If your hazardous product is one of the many hazardous products that has been knowingly used most often in poor and/or black or other minority neighborhoods, it is especially easy to put the responsibility back on those getting sick, since so many people don't give a shit about minority groups anyway. Those sick children have irresponsible parents. And you can simultaneously make the argument that the US government is mostly at fault for allowing poverty to be a thing in the first place. Seriously. . . this was part of the lead industry's defense.

This has some parallels to climate change as well. Deflect responsibility for the environment back on the individual consumer. The solution is a good recycling program, and composting, and driving an electric car. If someone suggests systemic changes or regulations that would infringe upon your freedom (as a business) to vomit toxic chemicals into the environment wherever you wish to, use all the money you've made from manufacturing these toxic chemicals to make sure those systemic changes and regulations never see the light of day.

5. Shrug and Move On.
In the unlikely event that government regulations DO end up shutting you down, simply sue the government for the future profits you would have made if you'd remained open. Declare bankruptcy and leave it to the government to solve the problem of cleaning up your messes. Chances are these costs will be too high for politicians to take them seriously, and a half-assed gradual plan for making the environment less toxic will happen over decades. Or maybe they will think it's enough that no more toxic chemicals are entering the environment, and they're okay with ongoing health side effects in the neighborhoods and environments you chose to fuck over.

Either way, you don't give a shit. You are now rich, and you can move on to a new product or consulting job. The stink of your chemicals, and all the people you have irreversibly harmed by your actions, won't follow you. Maybe you can go into politics :-)
Profile Image for David Wineberg.
Author 2 books706 followers
May 14, 2019
There is a (perhaps) lesser known aspect of American racism whereby people and institutions assume blacks are dumber than whites, that they are untrainable and don’t deserve as much pay for the same work as whites. Blacks don’t think clearly or fast enough, they don’t process or retain well, and they’re slow to move, think and speak. Harriet Washington shows in no uncertain terms that blacks have been systematically neglected and poisoned into this condition in A Terrible Thing To Waste.

In chapters jam-packed with statistics and scientific findings, Washington shows that blacks get Alzheimer’s at twice the rate of suburban whites who don’t live with the same polluted air, soil and water. Whites don’t breathe the lead paint dust in their homes or drink water from lead pipes.

Lead is the biggest villain the book. It attacks forming brains of infants and even fetuses, ensuring perverse developments later in life. For example, only 56% of lead-exposed students in Baltimore graduate high school. It affects behavior too, as black children grow into violence and crime. She gives the examples of well-meaning people who can’t fill out a form to apply for a job, to the point of not being able to remember their own birthdate. At the other extreme, a highly skilled child starting in a new school was automatically put into a special needs class with illiterates simply because he was black. Until his mother demanded he be tested - against the will of the teachers and officials - and fought their refusal to do so, assuming that all black children were dim.

To lead, add iodine, the lack of which is the single biggest cause of mental retardation, Washington says. Grocery deserts don’t provide the fresh produce that would allow for sufficient iodine. For a hundred years, the US has mandated iodine be added to salt to alleviate the shortage, but it is not enough, and the fashion for iodine-free sea salt exacerbates it. So all of America is dumbing down.

The (white) establishment does little or nothing to remediate the situation, keeping blacks in impoverished slums, moving garbage dumps into their neighborhoods, and allowing factories to spew whatever they want.

The extent of the arrogance can be seen in Anniston, Alabama. There, Monsanto hired a University of Mississippi professor to prove that the waters flowing through the town were not polluted by Monsanto’s dumping of millions of pounds of PCBs. The first test was letting 25 bluegills into the water, to see how they would react. They all died within three and a half minutes. “It was like dunking the fish in battery acid,” according to a team member. Just thirteen years later, Monsanto finally closed the plant. The pollution remains behind for all to enjoy. Kids splash in the streams, vegetable gardens soak it up, the water flows through the taps, and the black community is mentally damaged, generation after generation.

The vicious circle starts with low land prices. Factories move in, cheap housing goes up around them. The factories poison the soil, water and air, keeping the local residents from realizing their full potential in life. The factories close down, leaving a bunch of unemployed and unemployable people in housing completely worthless because no one will buy where the air, soil and water will kill them and their children. People can’t even refinance their mortgages because their homes have no value. The cycle of poverty deepens along with the diseases and conditions as local government refuses to throw resources at a hopeless neighborhood. Of blacks.

Lest anyone be lulled into thinking this pollution is localized, Washington cites figures that apply everywhere and to everyone:
-One in ten samples of organic juices exceeded the level of arsenic permitted by federal law.
-80% of infant formulas test positive for lead and/or arsenic.
-20% of baby foods contain lead.
-All lipsticks contain arsenic.
-DDT does not break down in nature. Lead and arsenic persist in soils for decades.
-Only 32% of US students show proficiency in mathematics, compared to 50% of Canadians and 63% of Singaporeans using standardized international tests.
-Pregnant women should limit their seafood intake to three servings a week due to methylmercury contamination. Even the FDA says no one should eat more than four shrimp – per month. Most saltwater fish are now toxic to humans.
-Amyloid plaques and magnetite, the trademarks of Alzheimer’s, develop from air pollution, as seen in autopsies in Mexico City.

The USA is far more polluted than most understand it to be, and like the Roman Empire collapsing around its lead-addled ruling class, the whole country is being damaged going forward. Washington cites billions upon billions of dollars diverted into to dealing with the mentally handicapped, who should not be and don’t have to be. Education costs, medical costs, welfare costs, and government oversight are all unproductively needed to deal with a polluted, damaged population. And by far the biggest block of victims is the black population. It is not genetic and not race-based. It is manmade toxicity that is fully preventable, and is, when found in white-majority areas.

There is a contradiction throughout A Terrible Thing To Waste. Washington devotes a lot of space to deconstructing and dismissing the notion of IQ. She points out that Alfred Binet invented the Intelligence Quotient or IQ measurement, and from the onset denied that it gave any indication of potential intelligence from birth or race. He said it could only evaluate intelligence for those not already performing adequately. He even refused to rank people using IQ. Washington goes farther, showing how it is an invalid test based on culture and context, such that perfectly intelligent people on other continents show up as morons when given American IQ tests. But then she cites IQ repeatedly throughout the rest of the book, showing that this disease cost 25 million IQ points or that condition cost eight million. That it lowered the average IQ by five points. This makes no sense after her work to dismiss IQ as a valid measure.

There is also a lot of repetition. The book could have been a faster read with even more impact given some more editing. But overall, it is a shocking wakeup call to end the voluntary stupidity that racism foists on the vulnerable.

Poverty remains the most punished crime in America.

David Wineberg
Profile Image for Blaire Malkin.
1,004 reviews4 followers
October 15, 2020
This felt like a mishmash of studies I already knew about with pregnancy advice mixed in. It did not feel coherent to me. I also was very bothered by her consistent use of the term mentally retarded throughout the book, when intellectual disability has replaced this term for at least the last decade. It did not clearly outline correlation vs causation. It talked about inaccessibility of healthy food while recommending pregnant mothers follow very strict food and cosmetic guidelines. I also found it repetitive and difficult to read. I agree that environmental justice is an important issue that needs to be addressed but this book felt hurried and disorganized to me.
Profile Image for Danni.
389 reviews
July 31, 2019
This is the scariest book I have ever read. I called my friend and told him how scared I was. I also texted friends of mine to encourage them to read this book.

The horrors discussed in this book induce fear and anxiety not because I was unaware of environmental racism, but because I live in New York City, one of the locations discussed in the book, and am aware of the seriousness of asthma in the South Bronx and other parts of New York City that are home to Black and Latinx communities.

From the very first page, Washington comes out swinging! Her claim is thoroughly argued and supported by pretty damning evidence. Sadly, much of what she relays in clear and authoritative prose has been known in communities of color for decades. The complaints of people of color fall on deaf ears at best—mocked or ignored at worst. From poor air quality to (il)legal dumping to failure to inform about and protect against the known health risks of lead, corporations along with local, state and national governmental agencies have assisted in the health decline of thousands of people. Washington's assertion that environmental toxicity has negatively impacted brain development and function such that IQ, a measurement of intelligence, has been adversely affected is a new dimension to the conversation around national health crises. One that I have never considered, but does make sense.

I won't be able to stop thinking about this. Everyone, needs to read this. If you're a vegan, a vegetarian, plan to have children, are a person of color, know a person of color, live in a place that was built on land, read this book.
Profile Image for Kelsey.
178 reviews6 followers
July 16, 2019
Excellent book on environmental racism in America and the effects felt by people both directly and indirectly. Her information about how environmental racism impacts IQ was fascinating and easy to understand. I figured the topic of lead would come up, as well as the situation in Flint, Michigan, but Washington was able to do a deep dive that can still be engaging even if you think you know a bit about the subject.

The author does a great job outlining the scientific and medical facts necessary to explain this issue while keeping it engaging. Oftentimes I've found that when an author includes too many statistic or scientific words that are way beyond my knowledge I can tune out or skip over it a bit, but Washington is able to artfully weave in those important numbers while still making it easy to understand for the layman. She does a good job of towing the line between presenting the information so that people who have no background in this subject are able to understand, but to also keep it at a level that those who do have solid foundation knowledge can build off of what they already know.

This was a really fascinating read about an important topic. I would definitely recommend!
Profile Image for Cathy.
190 reviews7 followers
July 14, 2019
The issue of environmental racism is one that many are sadly unaware of. There is a great deal of ignorance around the fact that where you live can have a significant impact on your potential for success. There is little discussion regarding how often decisions that can have a deleterious effect on quality of life in these environments are based on race.

Consider for example:

* The lack of effort to remediate lead-based paint in black neighborhoods.
* The frequency with which black neighborhoods are chosen for locally unwanted land uses.
* That black families are more likely to live in proximity to oil and gas facilities.
* The impact of environment and infection on fetal and early childhood development.

A result of these environmental factors is often impaired cognitive function. And the self-fulfilling prophesy that black students are often several IQ points behind their white classmates in these areas. But as author, Harriet A. Washington also discusses, the manner in which ways in which IQ is measured is flawed and racially slanted.

I’m just scratching the surface of an extremely well-researched book here.

The book is statistically dense and heavily footnoted, but the author’s efforts to carefully explain each point and put data in context puts the book with reach of the average reader.

I gave it 4, but it was 5 up until the section on what individuals can do about it. It's my opinion that many of the solutions offered were unrealistic for those living in poverty such as buying bottled water or filters if the water in the area has heavy metals, etc.

Washington discusses the problems with a the quality and potential toxicity of foods sold in dollar stores, but in areas that are food deserts, dollar stores are often the only choice for groceries. She recommends home-canning, but many people can’t afford the equipment to can correctly and safely and may not have the storage space for what they can.

In a way, it reminds me of charter schools, which are technically open to everyone, but without at least one engaged parent who isn’t working three jobs are not a real option.

The next chapter provides what I consider more realistic solutions such as community involvement and political activism. It’s tough to combat an institutional problem as an individual, but there is power in numbers.

I recommend that nearly everyone read this book, it’s full of data, information and insight on the many ways that institutional racism plays out in the environment.

This honest review is based on an ARC copy of the book I won through Goodreads.
Profile Image for Kristin.
354 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2020
I have so many feelings about this book. It is well researched, includes a lot of case studies, and makes a really compelling case for the way that racism has played a role in poisoning marginalized people in the US. It's condemning and horrifying and will have you ready to throw things at a wall. At the same time, the book focuses on the mental harm from these poisons, primarily the way that things like lead can cause real mental harm to children and infants. My biggest qualm is that this book uses the measurement IQ to make this case. IQ obviously comes with a lot of baggage, a lot of which is because of the improper use of IQ and the unsavory way it has been used in eugenics. Washington breaks down the pitfalls of IQ and explains why she uses it in her research in particular in the first chapter of the book - this was a good explanation and allayed a lot of my fears, but ultimately I couldn't quite get past it and several parts of the book rang a little off to me because of this. The author also tries to offer several ways that you can protect yourself if you are in a situation where any of these poisons could be impacting you and your family, but many of the solutions were most suitable for people with a lot of expendable resources, when the focus of the book and the case studies highlighted how environmental racism harms those with the least resources. The final chapter on community organizing was a bit better however. Ultimately, I think this is a really important story, especially in light of the horrors that we know have been inflicted in Flint, Michigan and other communities that I hadn't heard of before, but I wish Washington had chosen another way to measure harm that felt less tied to ableism/eugenics.
Profile Image for Tristan Eagling.
59 reviews31 followers
March 6, 2021
Hey white people! Remember when you all joined those anti-racism book clubs, and you know how you have 100% keep them up? Well this should be your next book. I loved Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present but this might be Harriet Washington’s best yet, and leaves you feeling just as angry at the world.

The book provides a plausible reason for why black people perform worse in IQ test and how ultimately the cause could be environmental racism, the view is backed up by science and oodles of date. By viewing racism and health inequality though the lenses of toxicology and environmental justice we are provided with fresh and compelling perspective on two of the most important topics of the last 12 months.
Profile Image for Abby Shade.
26 reviews1 follower
September 1, 2022
DNF - Would have given it 1 star, except it is undoubtedly well-researched and I do the find subject matter to be really interesting. Sadly, I am giving up on this book 1/3 of the way through, since it is extremely repetitive and very stat-heavy with information that I’m already familiar with. Really wanted to like this book, since I’ve heard great things about this author’s other book Medical Apartheid. Would potentially be a good read for someone who is completely new to the environmental racism conversation, but I also had a hard time with the way this author frames disability and how much the concept of IQ is centered.
Profile Image for Corvus.
569 reviews151 followers
May 27, 2019
Harriet Washington is known by many as the author of the harrowing and important "Medical Apartheid" in which she details a long history of medical and scientific abuse of Black individuals and communities. I consider this mandatory reading for any US American. "A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind," brings a whole new dimension of horror of what it is like to be Black, Brown, and/or poor in the USA. She tackles everything from exposure to dangerous pollutants to lack of access to healthy options and astutely describes how they all fit together in the realm of environmental racism.

The book starts off fairly quickly in discussing IQ disparities among poor people and/or people of color and this remains a theme throughout the book. I did find this part to contradict itself a bit, though. Washington makes excellent arguments about and gives a detailed history of how flawed IQ testing is. Yet, she still uses IQ points as a measure of environmental racism. Her book actually stands well on it's own without inclusion of this metric, or at least without centering it as much as she did. She also repeatedly uses the r-word and seems to lack the necessary analysis of disability justice that would be appropriate for this work. I have a review copy, so this could be something that has been or will change in the future printing. But, someone should have picked up on or sought out the fact that "Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities," is the correct way to discuss what she was speaking about. There was also a slight air of "disabled people are a drain on their families and society" which contributes to the ableist notion that people with intellectual disability do not offer anything to society or have a purpose. I am not saying people should seek out or want their children to be born with I&DD, nor should they lack upset for the higher rate of preventable illness and/or disability in their communities. I just think Washington could have been a bit more careful with her words here and that she or an editor should have picked up on the reality that using r*****ed- a term known as a common insult that many I&DD and Deaf people connect with extreme trauma- was not appropriate. Her description of the flaws, pseudoscience, and racial bias involved with IQ testing was excellent and it becomes clouded by the flaws in delivery.

Washington's book is organized in such a way that someone can skip around if they need to. This does mean that sometimes there is repetition, but it also is valuable for people unfamiliar with the topic to be reminded or for people only interested in reading one section out of order. Topics covered in different sections include lead and other pollutant poisoning, the extreme differences between fetal, childhood, and adult reactions to exposure, food deserts with copious access to only convenience and liquor stores' attachment to environmental racism, lack of access to appropriate medical care, and what is possibly the most horrifying as far as the squick factor goes- "Bugs in the System."

The details of lead poisoning from the unethical and abusive lead exposure experiments on Black and/or poor children and families in Baltimore to the water crisis in Flint are written in an incredibly engaging way. Toxic exposure is not simply that the exposure exists, but also all of the corruption and predatory practices of governments, scientists, and corporations that not only allow things to continue, but often actively support the atrocities. Early lead exposure is also linked to future criminal behavior- behaviors that, in white supremacist society, are always blamed on a Black person's character rather than their circumstances.

The elements of misogyny/misogynoir and it's link to environmental racism are clear in the sections discussing fetal exposure. Poor women, mostly of color, have been penalized via everything from fines to forced sterilization and/or imprisonment by the criminal injustice system for "feticide" or "abuse" due to exposures during pregnancy- including ones that occurred before they knew they were pregnant. At times, it is used by anti-choice lobbies to further their fight against reproductive autonomy for women and others who can get pregnant. At others, it is a way for governments or corporations to cover their tracks.

If I wasn't already vegan, the "Bugs in the System" chapter might have turned me. The chapter details countless bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections that are dangerous for everyone, but end up especially concentrated in Black, poor, and/or other marginalized populations. The reason I mention veganism is that I learned how many parasites are in animal flesh and how easily one can contract them. I was already pretty terrified of parasites. Now, I'm ever more aware and disgusted.

Finally, Washington offers a large section with a wide variety of solutions and actions that people can take to fight against environmental racism's effects on their lives. The advice includes healthcare, food consumption, housing access, familial care, legal options, and organizing/activist advice. There are very good suggestions in this section. I'm white but have poverty line income, so I am a person who shops at Dollar Tree tree and cheap stores. I threw out a couple of dishes and won't be buying some foods again, after reading her section on how many dollar stores use imported food and pottery that may contain lead. We in Pittsburgh are already dealing with our own lead water crisis, I don't need even more in my system.

I also really appreciate how carefully Washington approached this section. She made sure not to give in to pseudoscience hype like that of anti-vaxxers, anti-any-fluoride, anti-all preservative movements. Yet, she still leaves room for new research and for people to make the decisions about these things that work for them. She acknowledges and validates the reasons why Black people especially may distrust the medical system. She is also firm that vaccines do not cause autism and that mercury that is linked to disease is no longer in most vaccines. She is clear that fluoride's benefit for dental health- especially for those without dental care access- may outweigh any costs or risks involved. She offers a long list of preservatives generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and stresses that these preservatives are healthier than it would be to contract diseases they prevent, but acknowledges that some preservatives are unhealthy and thus avoiding processed foods is always a good idea. Her tips for organizing and activism offer a brief catalogue of the lack of Black and other people of color representation in environmental organizations, despite them being the biggest human targets of many of the problems tackled. This has changed somewhat, but not enough.

Overall, A Terrible Thing to Waste is a well written, well researched, and very necessary look at environmental racism. Despite its flaws in disability analysis and representation, it still offers an great amount of important information in a relatively small package (300 pages for all of this info is not very much.) The book hits shelves in July 2019 and is definitely worth picking up.

This review is also posted on my blog.
16 reviews
July 29, 2019
This is insane. I live in Anniston Alabama and while she states the legal side of the whole Monsanto situation and pcbs.. wherever she got her info on the nature of the city is very... VERY.. innacurate. My children play outside all the time. Our parks are just fine. I've NEVER seen anyone cut their grass with a mask, shoo their children away from parks, our children are not eerily quiet, there is NO backdrop of biohazard signs and chain link fence. Our town is like any other town.. I've never heard of any kids being born with two brains. We grow vegetables in our dirt with no problems and they are delicious. Washington clearly needs to learn to go to these places to do her own research instead of obviously taking the word of hypochondriac weirdos who do not represent the rest of the town. I don't know about the other towns in this book but if the depiction is anything like my towns portrayal, on behalf of those residents let me say.. please stop spreading innacurate assumptions about our cities. This is shameful. And on the note of racism.. our town is 49 percent African American.. and 44 percent Caucasian. The rest is made up by Latino and Asian etc. Please stop victimizing the black population that what I've seen as just as healthy and smart as the white population here. Good Lord!
62 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2020
Harriet A. Washington has not only done careful research about environmental racism in the United States, but has also relayed the information in such a way that I was consistently appalled by the lack of regulation and information-sharing in this county. For example, I knew that corporations were bad, but I had no idea the lengths they have taken to cover up environmental harm in the name of profit and reputation. I also had no knowledge whatsoever about the actual harm that pesticides, PCBs, and other chemicals inflict on brain development (which Washington measures through IQ). Black people experience the majority of these negative effects, regardless of their class. And Washington argues that it is ultimately race, not class, that affects your environmental experience in this country!

"A study of the 171 largest cities in the United States concluded that there is not even one city where whites live under equal conditions with blacks. "And the worst urban context in which whites reside," avers Williams, "is better than the average living conditions of blacks...One of America's best-kept secrets is how residential segregation is the secret source that creates inequality in the United States" (144-145).

Washington ultimately affirms that corporations & the US government have spent a long time "blaming the victim" (e.g. blaming parents when they are unaware of harmful chemicals in their children's food or play spaces) to divert attention from their own environmental crimes against BIPOC in this country. Washington leaves the reader with helpful suggestions for changing personal habits, as well as resources for community action, but ultimately argues that for anything to change, the government needs to impose stricter regulation on toxic exposure (a lot of which is not actually regulated or tested for harmful effects prior to use!) & take responsibility for the harm they have caused.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I learned while reading this book. I'm looking forward to reading more of Washington's work in the future!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tetyana.
8 reviews
April 20, 2020
Washington presents an overwhelming encyclopedia chronicling the “mental and intellectual devastation wrought by the exposure of marginalized racial groups to toxic environmental contaminants.” I can tell this book will be an invaluable resource of evidence for me, akin to a textbook in your library to which you can come back to again and again, on the disproportionate effect of not only lead poisoning and pollution, but also other “brain thieves” such as heavy metals, neurotoxins, deficient prenatal care, poor nutrition and pathogens on people of color. The book moreover strives to be a compelling call to action by including a tactical guide on how you can better protect yourself and your family from harmful contaminants and how communities can organize to play a role in the environmental justice movement. However, these (debatable whether accessible or not) resources offered only in the latter chapters, which means overall, this book is not for the faint of heart – or maybe I should say faint of spirit for academic research. Laid out almost like a literature review, the statistical data can be overwhelming, disjointed, redundant, and sometimes lacking (due to limited research overall, not necessarily Washington’s own investigation). The graphics did little to support the content as well. Although I’m glad to have taken a moment to learn more about the environmental justice movement, I’m left wondering whether this research would’ve been better presented as a series of more focused articles or books.
Profile Image for Casey.
53 reviews
April 10, 2021
Let me preface by saying that I really did enjoy most of this book. When I began A Terrible Thing to Waste, I thought it would be a 5-star read. It is insightful, informative, and interesting. Even with a science background, I learned a lot, and it’s written in a way that is easy for anyone to understand. I came away feeling more informed and even more furious about the many ways the United States finds to keep people of color trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Unfortunately, I found the last part of the book extremely draining and tedious. Chapter 7 (the final chapter) read more like an appendix. In fact, I think much of the information in it could have been neatly organized into an appendix of various resources, including websites and organizations. Plus, much of the key information in it had already been expressed in previous chapters.

In Chapter 4, the author describes a variety of ways that parents or parents-to-be can protect their children from environmental toxins. While this is important information, it read more like a parenting guide, which wasn’t exactly the book I signed on with. Plus, most of this information was already contained in previous chapters, making it ultimately very repetitive.

While I enjoyed the knowledge I gained from this book, I was also excited to be able to put it down.
Profile Image for janel.
351 reviews16 followers
February 27, 2022
A really hard thing to review, honestly, but it was invaluable for how it explained in detail things I've known in the abstract.

I've been aware of the vast ways in which white supremacy upholds itself through laws, zoning, and dozens of atrocities that add up to the system we have today - it sickens me to know how commonplace and ingrained these things are. It almost sounds like a 'conspiracy' theory - if you wrote a villain like the US you'd be laughed at for being so cartoonish in your description, but it's what's happened and what continues to happen.

I will probably need to pick up a physical copy of this and Washington's other work, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, because I have no ability to maintain information and I don't want these facts slipping from my brain as I become a more informed citizen and voter.

Recommended for people who want to better understand the systems set in place and to learn what needs to be fixed. Entirely overwhelming, but a necessary thing to learn.
Profile Image for Erik.
Author 3 books9 followers
July 4, 2020
Though her book came out before Covid hit, Washington's look at the impacts of toxic chemical pollution and other environmental harms on communities of color updates environmental justice. .

She does talk about other disease threats, especially neglected tropical diseases (NGDs) like chagas and Zika that Americans think don't affect us but actually do hit southern states and their communities of color hard. And surprisingly, aside from their main impacts, these diseases also harm the brain, especially in pregnancy and early childhood.

Washington's focus is on brain power but that's just a way to get the reader into the topic of environmental racism.

The book like like two-in-one. The first 75% is heavy on public health science. The last quarter is a handbook for protecting your own family and community. While Washington encourages personal vigilance, she concludes that only collective action to stop toxic chemicals getting into our bodies will solve the problem. And that means the government must restrict big rich corporations from taking the cheapest way out.

Only activism can make this happen, and Washington invites her reader to join the ranks of those fighting to protect themselves and their communities, a message tailored to a time newly awakened to how black and brown lives matter.

Profile Image for Lex.
113 reviews
April 5, 2021
I've waded through this book over a period of weeks, and let me tell you, it was worth it! Harriet A. Washington does an amazing job synthesizing decades of research to map out how environmental factors (air, water, and heavy metal pollution; disease; etc.) and racism conspire to create the black-white IQ gap.

The book starts off a bit slow, but really picks up in Part II (about 50 pages in) and ends with great next steps readers can take. I would give it 4.5 stars if I could, and am only withholding the last half star because of the slow start and because I think Washington could have worked even more personal anecdotes into her research. When those were there they really helped add interest and increase the pace of the book, but I think the lack of them early on might cause her to lose readers.

Whether you're interested in environmental justice or just want to protect the kids you love from brain damage, I'd highly recommend this read. Just know it's active (NOT light) reading, and sit down prepared to think.
Profile Image for Angelia.
147 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2022
I learned a lot from this book and feel better weaponized with data points to work through environmental racism and what I can do as an advocate in both my professional and personal lives. However, I felt like Part III of the book, in which the author gives solutions to the cure, places too much of the onus on individuals, as opposed to admonishing and a call for the government and corporations to enact bans and laws to protect communities. A lot of her recommendations are expensive or simply infeasible for low-income people to afford or have the time and resources to complete. I appreciated the chapter on advocacy and how to get involved, but the recommendations in this book are not radical enough for a problem that should have been solved decades ago.
Profile Image for Camille McCarthy.
Author 1 book28 followers
September 26, 2019
Washington brings to light the damage of environmental racism on the IQ of people of color through incredibly strong writing and hard-hitting data. This book made me incredibly angry, as we all should be, at how people of color have been treated and are still treated today. She points out how the "achievement gap" may be at least partially attributed to children of color literally being poisoned and robbed of their intellect from environmental factors such as lead paint, PCBs, and polluted air. This book is a must-read, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone going into any industry that involves producing chemical waste or manufacturing chemicals. She incorporates a lot of issues into this book, including the lack of testing of chemicals to tell whether they have adverse effects on people, the discrepancy between effects of chemicals on adults and effects of those same chemicals on children, the burden of proof being on those who are adversely affected rather than those creating chemicals, and the principle of preventing harm before it is caused rather than arguing after the fact that this chemical isn't harmful. She also talks about IQ tests' unreliability and about how attributing differences in IQ to genetic differences between the races is not only racist but incorrect scientifically, and the definition of race being a social construct with no scientific basis. I really appreciated her nuanced writing style, the clarity of the points she was making, and her breadth on this topic. I will definitely be looking for her other writing, and I highly, highly recommend this book.
25 reviews
July 25, 2021
a thoroughly informative, deeply researched book filled with studies and statistics. there were many well drawn conclusions and connections in regards to race & environmental variables that were new to me, and expanded my understanding of how racism can present itself geographically, locally, physically throughout generations.

unfortunately i found this book to be TOO heavy with scientific references for me to really sink my teeth into it; took me the better part of a year to finish it 😩 (and i’m a fast reader!!!). if your brain responds well to constantly reading statistics & reports, this is for you!
Profile Image for Susan.
2,732 reviews
January 24, 2022
Is it bad that I didn't really learn a lot from this book? Perhaps it is because I've read a lot about the impacts of racism already. This book went in to a lot more detail about the specific impacts of specific chemicals instead of a broad overview that living near something spewing forth chemical waste is a bad idea. That was more information than I previously had. But when it comes down to it, White Americans need to acknowledge that Black Americans are people who deserve the same health and safety, that we all need to hold government and corporations accountable, and that it is in all Americans' best interest that we have a clean environment in which to thrive.
Profile Image for Mikaela C..
69 reviews
August 10, 2022
I think the worst thing about this book is that I don’t actually believe the author is fully convinced of her own argument; in an attempt to view environmental racism and injustice in a centrist light and appeal to a larger audience, Washington relegates the actual underlying roots of the issues–capitalism, imperialism–to subtext at best. Climate change is given a single paragraph. Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating natural disasters that was allowed to completely decimate low-lying Black communities due to overt and intentional racist negligence *and* as part of a larger rebuilding plan to gentrify those neighborhoods post-disaster, was followed by police harassing and shooting those same displaced communities as they tried to find shelter. This was given a paragraph over halfway through the book yet is recognized as one of the worst instances of environmental racism in the past few decades.

Despite her constant interjections that blaming communities for these environmental issues are incorrect, which makes me think she is very aware of her own argument hanging on by a thread, the topics she chooses to address and the manner she addresses them in says otherwise. She consistently admits race is a significant player in environmental injustice yet does not acknowledge that the existing bias and racism is so pervasive that it is not enough to mitigate or even eliminate environmental injustice when other systems in place compound and even operate within that same dimension of oppression. The displaced communities of Katrina could have been doctors and lawyers, but the racist institution of policing still did not view them as full human beings worthy of life and environmental safety–how can you only acknowledge one of the many heads of this larger beast? (Answer: addressing capitalism as one of the roots of the issue, which she avoids). She even provides an anecdote of a young Black child being placed in a special education class despite being a gifted student simply because he was Black. An unequal and biased education system will continue to limit the potential success of Black Americans even if their landlord repaints their apartment. Health outcomes for middle-class Black people are still lower than even poor white people in many instances. This is brought up frequently in tandem with social environmental factors that dictate these health outcomes, but she conveniently avoids the social factors that perpetuate them, like redlining/rezoning, policing, or even the fact that racism as it exists is detrimental to the health of marginalized people. Environmental injustice doesn’t exist in a vacuum nor does it exist alone. It is also subtly reminiscent of respectability politics that insinuates people of color that are educated enough can evade racism, which is obviously a crock of shit.

To boot…I just wholeheartedly disagree with her use of IQ and intelligence as a central theme. Once again, I don’t even think she herself believes it. She gives an entire opening chapter to the illegitimacy of IQ as a determinant of intelligence or capability and is not particularly convincing on why it should be used as a main signifier of environmental health disparities. Sometimes her tone is fully that of “the worst thing about your child eating paint chips is that he comes out retarded.” The worst thing about unequal environmental circumstances is that they are unequal, FULL STOP. And the thing that made me hate this book from the jump was the idea that we are “sapping away” the potential genius of young Black people who could *checks notes* contribute to the U.S. global economy??? (Not to mention that Washington’s classification of children’s intelligence is limited to either “retarded” or “gifted”.) The worst part about a developmental disability is that a person is no longer…economically viable? What a shitty argument and a false one at that. The US has become a global economic superpower because of the economic exploitation of Black people, Native Americans, and immigrants. Environmental injustice is intentional; it maintains the socioeconomic hierarchies intrinsic to capitalism and keeps people of color impoverished and vulnerable to more dangerous and exploitative jobs and living conditions. This country is built upon dehumanizing racist capitalism that degrades our environment and our communities. It is not a detriment to our economy, it is essential to it. I can’t even get into the subtle disdain she reveals about how we are struggling with the same diseases as “developing countries”, as if colonization, imperialism, environmental exploitation, and racist capitalism do not also affect other parts of the world that have wreaked havoc on the resilience or stability of many, much of which our country is also responsible for.

Truthfully, I did not stomach the last 50 pages of this book mainly because it was irritating to read as it became increasingly disorganized. I also became more and more frustrated at how much was sacrificed to create a palatable read about a horrible reality. I can’t give a 1-star review just because there is still some information in here that is essential and educational, and environmental racism is such a pervasive and important issue I don’t think it hurts to have any and all voices speak on the matter. But I am in extreme disagreement with how it was approached, which is made worse by the fact that, again, I think the author herself intentionally skirted around more complex social environmental factors that deepen the issue in an attempt to neutralize a politically saturated topic.
Profile Image for Allison Lee.
32 reviews1 follower
July 12, 2022
A very cool, sad, real read. A mix of anecdotal and academic, Washington weaves stories with science to talk about the impacts of environmental racism on intellectual development. My classes typically discuss environmental injustices from the perspective of exposures. However, Washington follows the impact of exposures into developmental, health, and economic impacts on communities, often communities of color, in the US.
Very cool to end the book with resources on a range of contaminants of concern, general steps to avoid exposures, and resources for organizing.
Profile Image for Nina.
143 reviews5 followers
July 10, 2020
This book changed my life and made me feel like I have been steeped in poison my whole life while also teaching me that there actually are entire communities that are actually steeped in poison. In reading I definitely thought less about IQ and more about cognitive issues arising from environmental racism, but the author does begin with an acknowledgment that IQ is a flawed, yet sometimes useful, metric. I knew a bit about the toxic dumping of materials and the deathly living conditions forced upon communities inhabited by BIPOC but this book made me understand how intentional and horrific this poisoning is.

File under: life changing

Learned about: Baltimore, neurological diseases from household pests, IQ, lead poisoning, Flint, superfunds, toxic dumping, mental retardation, environmental racism, medical racism, poverty, pesticides, iodine
Profile Image for Amber.
1,970 reviews
October 11, 2020
This book is incredibly well researched and well written. I highly recommend it to everyone. Washington not only covers the connections between intellect and environmental toxins but she gives realistic and helpful ideas for community organizations to fight for their rights.
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