The IQ Debate
Hi I'm Elise Linen Co host with Gwyneth of the podcast. Today's guest is Harriet Washington. She is the final guests in our special series called women on top which is all made possible by our friends. Banana Republic The most interesting businesses are borne out of curiosity. This is the space. Gwyneth was in when she started goop. It's also the space from which Banana Republic was founded back in nineteen seventy eight by to California creatives with adventurous spirits Laos fall. We partnered with a team at Banana. Republic to celebrate curiosity by talking with women who are redefining. What it means to be powerful and brave and we're very excited to be back for a second series. I hope you love listening to these conversations as much as I love having them and I know you'll be deeply inspired by these women so please keep listening and keep shopping with our friends at Banana. Republic to see our favorites from their spring collection had two banana republic dot com slash goop. 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Dramatically affects our ability to have good health. Today we talk about the reasons. I Q is a problematic construct because it's held up as being hereditary by some scientists who are as we will learn deeply flawed in their thinking. I Q scores feed the stereotypes that white people and Asians are more intelligent and have more potential than people of Color. This feeds loop of misinformation. Is Harriet explains all of the factors. Sometimes as resoundingly simple as lead exposure the contribute to how minds function and how many of these factors overwhelmingly effect communities of color communities of color across the country are exposed to an abundance of harmful chemicals and other pathogens these pathogens can cause infectious diseases. That may cause intellectual disabilities and worse. Washington believes that until we fix the systemic issues. We are handicapping people of color and even more importantly they're very vulnerable. Children were tweeting for the wrong things very often because we're not making that connection between the early poisoning and later behavior later deficits all at Harriet Washington. Take it from here. So thank you for being here. It's my pleasure. Believe me and thank you for writing your book which I thought was needed fascinating and startling though. I'm sure it's none of it's startling to you. Unfortunately not but I agree that it's under the radar. Unfortunately so I think it's really important to draw attention to not only physical but also the mental consequences of Rampant environmental poisoning. Yeah so let's talk about hereditary and his And let's talk about the whole concept of Iq. 'cause I know that that's what the book hinges on get. It's also sort of a dumb way of assessing someone's intelligence so do you WanNa take us through the creation of the IQ tests and then sort of how it's been perverted. But it's also these gaps that are perceived to be hereditary are not right you know the free success has the thousand fathers and failures orphan It applies to Iq because he'll find several people who claim to have originated it but it essentially began when hominids psychologists was trying to look at children who are not performing well in school now. That's critical because he intent of what eventually became I Q was developed. A tool for people who they knew had intellectual deficits. I just didn't understand what they were so he worked on this test. An alternate lately after a lot of difficulty came up with the scale. That was you know. You've somewhat successful in predictive but not terribly useful however one of the important things that he repeatedly said that this was a tool to be used for people who were having difficulty with cognitive tasks. It wasn't a tool for the masses for everyone and he was actually expressed fears that it might eventually be used to stratified people and label them as having lower or higher intelligence and of course. It's exactly how it's used today. So it was a flawed concept from the beginning. And what's really troubling to me about. It now is that it's used in a manner. The definition of IQ is something that is simply not supported by What is able to gauge? So we have people including scientists who assume that IQ tells us something about are unchangeable intellectual capacity something about our intellectual capacity that is associated with the SIM will never change cannot be easily lowered or lifted up and something that is going to be. Predictive Hereditary ins take this illogical step farther by without any credible scientific support claiming that differences that are measured in. Iq's translate to differences in cognitive abilities. So they will say that someone who has lower IQ is necessarily someone who has a lower capacity for learning the also say that this is something that's inherited they also claim it's something that stratified by race they quite you know without new ones. They will quite clearly say while nature has color-coded races of People. So we will know who's got a high cognitive ability and who's got low cognitive ability and guess what surprise surprise it's Europeans like themselves. Who have the highest ability except for when they designate Asian some Asian groups as having ability and people of Color with the lowest? If you look at Africa for example a book I Richard Lynn. He claimed to assess the IQ of most countries on earth and every country in Africa saved two. Has I q measurements below seventy and I came measuring low seventy. Don't someone who's mentally retarded so their sense saying all of Africa's mentally retarded and so this claim that it's something that people of color will pass onto their children. Something that can be changed is ready. -Tarian view that's just not supported by the facts. But one of the things I always want people to understand is one has to be wary because these are indeed scientists and we accept their authority as scientists but they are also united by their belief in Eugenics most of these people if not all of them are funded directly by the pioneer fund a self proclaimed eugenic organization. They also all have very strong political agendas. We're not talking about pure science that they have formulated based on data. We're talking about people with very strong ideology or point routing ideas about I q that fit neatly within that ideology so for example when William Shockley in the sixties proclaimed African Americans as inherently debased intellectually with low. Iq's he also had a very important bill he got brought before local Senate's in which he was asking. That all women of color be sterilized nor to prevent you know dragging down the gene pool. Something that would have been quite at home in Germany under National Socialism. You know it's a very clear eugenic racist idea. And so we have to look at these people as who they are scientists. But who have very strong political ideologies and who are funded by Gupta funds eugenics. We had Richard Rich wine at Harvard. Who Not that long ago. I believe two thousand nine wrote his doctoral thesis on the inherent intellectual degradation of Hispanic Americans and went one further by saying that all Hispanic people were they were Americans. Or Hail from countries that they all tended toward criminality and refuse to assimilate and after he earned his PhD. His First Act was to write a report for the government in which he was making a case for stemming all Hispanic immigration to the US so again what people tend to view people tend to view because they've been presented as a gauge of unhealthy intellectual ability that is promoted by scientists. Yes actually politically motivated theory. That is not supported while by the science at all and is simply. Something not accurate. Iq can tell us some things. But it can't tell you your capacity to learn for life simply not what it does. It is good for some crude measurements of deficiency. But not in terms of not predictive. And Not Something. That actually can be comparative. And that's another problem we have here. You know they are trying to compare. Iq'S Q of different groups of people. But that's nonsensical and you can't compare the accused of people who have wildly different intellectual backgrounds experiences and opportunities spleen not possible and you certainly can't compare the Iq of people who've lived entire lives with staggering assaults from environmental poisons and people who have not. Yeah and I WANNA talk. Obviously that's the primarily what we're going to talk about but I just wanted to since you mentioned William Shockley. He's a noblest but for the transistor fact which has absolutely nothing to do with the intelligence various groups of people. So I think often scientists can get completely of their lane. They call it the Nobel curse the non-users and then use their spouses completely. Crackpot theory that has nothing to do with your specialty. Yeah it happens surprisingly often and then you also called out Nicholas Wade. Who was the former time science editor? He wrote a book called troublesome inheritance gene race in human history so establishing this idea that IQ is flawed. And obviously you know if you live in Kenya like the way that you learn. The whole contract of your experience is completely different than if you live in Kentucky. They're not exactly comparable so even assuming that it's flawed you also throughout the book talk about the ways as you just said that you can affected proving that it's also not genetic right so I was staggered the iodine deficiency in the twenty s. And the fifteen point leap. An I q that happened. Throughout throughout the world right throughout the country was now when you argue with hereditary in which is always an interesting experience. I found that if they're back into the walls what they will pull out very frequently is but we have measured a different than I. Q in this country. That shows a fifteen point fishing. An African Americans they have Ikea's at on average are fifteen points lower than those of whites. How do you explain that one can explain that very easily because in nineteen twenty four reclosed a fifteen point gap in Iq and we did it by adding potassium iodide to salt? Now we didn't set out to close the IQ gap. Actually doctors. Were trying to get rid of goitres. Goitres release unsightly lumped in the neck that were known to be a result of deficiency in thyroid. So they thought by giving the people who had thyroid problems it would cure the problem and the disappear and they were right. That happened it by the way. It was extremely cheap. It cost like one or two dollars per tonne. You Know Dan. I salt so twenty five years later when they're doing mass scale IQ testing of military recruits. They discover that men from these low IQ areas of the country. Like parts of Michigan where people had fifteen points lower IQ and miss the country. Suddenly the Capri disappeared. There accused were like everybody else. The gap had been closed by adding to salt. Because they didn't know it we now know that I deficiency is the largest cause of mental retardation in the world unfortunately it still largest causes mental retardation in the world. Because we know this. We haven't actually used that knowledge in other countries and had closed the gap. But the important thing is it should have alerted us to the fact that environmental experiences can be definitive when it comes to Q. Those low IQ men had low IQ's because they didn't have enough I died and I died isn't necessarily component ally Roxanne which helps direct brain formation. Their brains rent bring form properly because they lacked iodide so knowing that it makes sense to look at environmental causes when you see a difference in cume so take us through so they're called punchline communities and essentially the the idea is that communities of color reservations throughout this country are the preferred spot for industrial sites toxic dumping lead pipes that like many things in this country. There's mass inequity in these communities and there are consequences as you're arguing in the book. So is it worth to. We start with love and sats so well no I think. Let us most familiar to me. Yeah we'll right right and it's you know it's pervasive it's everywhere unfortunately and you know some are indeed fence line communities but there are lots of other points of entry of you know toxin toxicants like lead so if we're talking about lead it's staggering poison in the nineteen eighties. When I ran a poison control center we used to worry about children who had twenty twenty five micrograms per deciliter and now and so we worried about them. We had them brought to the hospital. Tried to save their lives and that was a focus on saving their lives. We didn't know enough or perhaps enriching department. We didn't luxury we weren't necessarily worrying how it was going to affect them later in life I mean we didn't know everything but we knew that lead had some effects but indeed it did affect them later in life and now of course we don't worry about kids with twenty five now worrying about kids who with any complement of let because now we what we know down didn't know then was any exposure can be devastating so lead is also cumulative so a kid who has exposed even low exposure early in life it builds over the course of their life. It's not something that's GonNa stop and These exposures are really devastating. Even if they're low in fact cumulative look over the whole country there's no more damage to children from low exposures in high exposures. More kids are suffering from low exposures but no matter what degree of exposure were looking at children who are children of color. There are a lot of reasons for that a lot. It basically boils down to the fact that people of Color in this country have not only been treated differently. They've long been segregated from other people and you have people who are segregated or forced to stay in certain areas than there once. We're GONNA suffer the assault of those areas so certainly during enslavement enduring segregation. It's very clear you had people who simply could not leave certain areas so when you had lead pipes in those areas when there's lead paint put on the walls there when there's lead dust everywhere and a certain point whites could flee to the suburbs to housing that had never seen lead paint that had no lead pipes. It didn't have exposure but blacks were not allowed to creation was officially over de facto segregation. But we had new forms segregate redlining for mortgages things that kept black people out of the cleaner communities. That weren't poisoned. And they're trapped there and there's trapped there now. It's really important to understand that. Although very often the discussion centers around poverty poverty isn't it? A risk factor but race in this country is a much stronger. Risk factor because poor people for example Good illustration is that if you look at who suffers the most in reynolds exiting most poisoning whites who have an income of ten thousand dollars. A year profoundly. Poor people saying APPALACHIA. They haven't exposure to accessing but African Americans who earn fifty to sixty thousand dollars have a greater exposure much greater exposure so although poverty is a risk factor racism. Much stronger one. And when you have people who are trapped in these areas it's very damaging because if you look at lead poisoning as a whole the truth is that lead poisoning and children's country has improved. There's less lead poisoning more. Kids are not completely free if it but don't have the levels of lead poisoning that caused us to have serious worries about their future cognitive effects. But if you look in African American children you see the opposite. You see spikes you've seen very high exposures and so race is a really malignant factor in this country because it stands for so many other things stands for physical segregation in stands for limitation on one's asocial aspirations no matter how much money when hats one camp by a homeless in suburbs when the suburbs have ways of barring you from housing. I remember when we came back from Germany to the US in the early sixties. My father's first move was he wanted to buy a house. He tried for three years to buy a house in suburbs. Couldn't do and I actually saw some of the mortgage applications were interesting at the top of many of them. They actually had the percentage of white in that community. Wow yes it was a selling point for people and it was always in the high nineties if not if not one hundred percent was always like ninety seven ninety nine one hundred percent this the selling point and so there are also clauses in some of the leases saying. You had to promise that you wouldn't sublet to African Americans. You had to promise it. You would not have African Americans in the House that you own for prolonged period of time so the very strong sentiment against allowing people of Color in the in the cleaner communities without toxic nicely. Dang it yeah stronger sentiment. Yeah wow I mean yeah. It's so messed up and I know kids. I thought this was really helpful. 'cause were you talking about sort of critical windows vulnerability for both prenatal development and also for children. Just how why? It's why something like lead which is great for adult obviously but doesn't have the same facs. Can you sort of just cookley walk through white kids in particular or so won't share? That's very very important. Point and doesn't only pertain to lead it pertains to most Hopkins. So what happens is that children are vulnerable because for one thing they have a greater surface skin area compared to their size so for talking about something that can enter through. The skin as lead does not only. Can you breathe in? But it'll lead dust on your skin can actually cause problems in most other toxicants so when you vote largest surface area. You're going to have more you know. Compared to your body area same's true for lungs. Their lungs are larger relative to their body area. So they're going to breathe in more in the affected by more relative to their body area so their body load is going to be much much larger than adult in the same environment. There's also their metabolism especially perinatal like children who have been just born for the first year or so of life. A child spends about eighty seven percent of this metabolic energy building brain. You know we see kids sleeping all the time. But they're actually not just resting. They're harder work building that brain. It's a very complex energy expensive task and it can't do that and ward off the effects of toxicity at the same time. It can't do that and warrant off pathogen infection at the same time so kids who are exposed to lead exposed the fates or who might even be sick you know. I'm getting an infection. They are not going to be able to build a brain properly and improper brain. Building is devastating. There's a phrase. The dose makes the poison which is true. It's also true that the timing makes the poison so when a child is building a structure in the brain. It happened at a particular time if you the child is actually half having to deal with influx of lead or pathogens or daylights at the same time and it can't do both that structure may not be made. Those neurons may not migrate on time. So you end up with the brain is improperly formed and this can be extremely devastating. And what's really insidious about his. It's not always immediately apparent. You know a lot of the harms done to children are not apparent for very long time so if a child is at one years old is not able to build a proper Magdala or limbic system. We start seeing profound behavior problems when they're thirteen and fourteen right. No one tends to connect the two things so very often. They don't say oh. That child was lead poison in Utero or at two years old and that's why they would even know we'll say that child has conduct disorder. That child has psychosis retreating for the wrong things very often. Because we're not making that connection between the early poisoning and later behavior later deficits children are not making their developmental milestones. You know because of something that happened to them before they were a year old and it's not always being picked up on in fact I'd venture to say having talked to a lot of pre neurologists. It's typically not being picked up on and when I say these things happen at certain times I mean it's very precise so in the organs begin. Thank forming from days. Twenty one fifty six the neural plate forms around day eighteen so if they are assaulted by let. I'm one of those days it can be terrible. The brain can become distorted if it happens in next week or the week before the child could be perfectly. Okay Yeah but this vulnerability is really important and unfortunately it tends not to be part of the calculation because I have an. I'm sure you've seen at too. We often hear scientists especially industry scientists. Not only them say things like well true. There's an exposure here but it's so low it's too low to do any damage. It's a quivalent of drop of water in eighteen bathroom full. That can't harm anyone. Oh yes it can. It can harm child. Nutro can hire young one year old so we need to start being more vigilant and paying attention to these early exposures. They don't have to be large. They can infant asmal but they can still completely devastated child's brain. Yeah I mean it just goes again and we talk about this a lot on the podcast to the whole causation. Correlation argument and with tens hundreds of thousands of unregulated chemicals in our in our water lead etc. Like we'll never be able to say although with lead it's probably quite clear this 'cause this therefore no one's taking responsibility for cleaning up the mess and in terms of long term impacts. I was staggered. Fact check me but is it that black men have one hundred percent higher risk of Alzheimer's disease. A hundred percent seems high. I think in some limited populations that can be that high tweet. That's basically twice as much and yeah. That's not unusual. Yeah that's true okay. That's true I need to issue the caveat. It's not true for every single population of African Americans but it is true. They have double the risk. So it's a very serious serious risk staggering and if you look at Alzheimer's Alzheimer's. The interesting thing is at this cognitive decline in adulthood and late adulthood. Alzheimer's is sometimes a diagnosis of exclusion. And we have to think about the fact that we're talking about people who first of all have very often have a genetic of owner ability. We often hear the argument posed as genetics versus environment. But that's not. That's a false dichotomy because the two are intertwined down. Some environmental insults are more harmful or may only harm people who have genetic vulnerability and some environmental insult caused. Genetic problems can cause distortion in genetic makeup for example diethylene Straw Das. Probably the best known and you can re disruptor it can cause genetic changes in the people who are affected causing them have children who are now very vulnerable or have these defects. Because so it's very closely intertwined. It's not an either or thing. But yes the vulnerability is real. And it's much worse retold and it's important to understand that in this when you're talking about 'cause versus correlation I think there's a very basic over-simplification that happens here. People are left with the impression that well if you can show that the correlation and not a 'cause then you don't really have you haven't shown there's a problem that's absolutely not true the strength of the correlations important when you have many studies pointing to the same culprit is causing a problem. That's important to one of the difficulties. In proof is that we're using very often outmoded ways of proof and we also are listening to arguments about poof people who financial stake in the outcome so when you have industry scientists saying that well. You're saying that these failures are causing problems in the children but our studies prove the hundred percent. Certainly it's true. Are they saying anything meaningful? Do we need one hundred percent certainty. Should that be the gold standard and also proof is not just a scientific stance? It's also an economic stands because if a company can prove but company can cast doubt on proof they can evade responsibility. They can you know not have to pay for it or clean up so the more doubt that they can they could spell you know more doubt they can sprinkle around around a seemingly clear correlation the better off they are that's economically useful for them. In fact a really interesting book entitled. Doubt is their product out right. You know I just interview David Michaels. Last week and DC and then his new book triumph flipped out all about pro. He calls IT product Defense Science. He doesn't really like kind of it's not really science. It's a re-cut of existing data to prove whatever they need to prove to create yeah to create enough confusion that people think that their product is actually fine exactly And clearly communities of color are the ones you pay the biggest price. We'll get back to Harry at Washington and just a second You've probably heard me mentioned that. Curiosity is my favorite state of being. I try to carry that attitude with me every day and it certainly easier to do that. Place like goop the places. Such a premium value on being curious and feeling empower to explore and ask questions. Banana Republic is another company that values curiosity their founding story starts with a California couple who were looking for an adventure. 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Will you know hazard or make a diagnosis? But what does that diagnosis? I think what's changing is at seeing the symptoms. They are expanding the the differential tree of that diagnosis to understand that it could be a psychiatric disorder you're describing or it could be the result of this early poisoning experience. So that's what's happening here. We're seeing thankfully and expansion of the of the medical gays. So you're not simply trying to figure out which diagnosis label applies these children but what actually caused it. I think probably the most for me. The most surprising aspect of that was looking at alcohol. Orders you know I think we're We do read and hear a great deal about alcohol. Orders in children of Alcoholics Alcoholic Women and also in native American populations been characterized really well and when in prenatal screening physicians know with these groups of Women Alcoholics and native American. They notice green them. You know for alcohol abuse and try to protect the unborn child by making sure. They're not exposed to that but unfortunately they don't do that was wider populations and there's a lot of evidence of a mess by a doctor named Carl Bell up pediatric psychologists in Chicago when fortunately passed away last year. He looked at large populations of children who interacted with the justice system because when they came in juveniles they had diagnoses. You know behavioral diagnoses and he looked at their histories and found that most of them had mothers who drank socially while pregnant. So what's interesting? Is that the perception that alcoholic women are have. Children who are vulnerable is of course correct but so do young women who don't know they're pregnant until maybe two months out and who've been drinking socially you don't have to be an alcoholic for your kid to be at risk if you're a social drinker. Your child's been injured by the alcohol. You taken just as easily as an alcoholics child and that is indeed. What's been happening? But it's been under the radar. Yeah no it's so interesting. To like US sites they in two thousand seven amherst economics. Professor Jessica will raise released her analysis showing that the reduction in gasoline lead was responsible for most of the decline in the US violent crime during the nineteen nineties. Right now. That's interesting because looking at crime. That's something a bit different and very recently very recently Paul's research and that of Kevin Drumm who found some of the same things has been called into question. People are questioning this now. We don't know who's right science. Frankly doesn't work that way. You know it'll be a while until we can sort it all out but I think when we look at the people who are questioning their data the big big question I have is. What are they doing? Are they looking at it? And finding there isn't a correlation after all or they're looking at it and deciding. The correlation does not rice loved proof. Right if it's the latter. I find that a lot less concerning the reasons I suggested early on. It doesn't have to rise to level of proof you know yeah We're not talking about an either or it could be a factor and also it's like kind of a such a silly debate right. It's like take the lead out of paint. Lick take the lead. I mean it's I know gasoline's unleaded now. But like let's Redo all of our infrastructure as the COMP- country and get rid of lead pipes create some jobs so these are also in some ways silly debates. I think so because they make more sense. If you're trying to defend lead yeah then if you're generally concerned about the health of children because let's say worst case scenario you know four wilpon and drum. Let's say it turns out they're wrong and lend actually not a driving factor in the murder rate. Okay let is a driving factor in cognitive damage. You know in physical health in a wide spectrum disorders. There's no question about whether we want to remove letter. Not Yeah you know. But for the lead industry it might help them to evade responsibility. And that's also that I also am interested in the fact that although I think it's important I don't deny that but I find it interesting. That a lot of Their work has been invested in looking at crying. Because we have to be really careful about blaming the victim here You know lead. I think lead probably is associated with crime because of the effect it has on behavior also the effect it has on curtailing people's lives if you can't get a job if you can't hold a job you can't get an education. You may likely be more likely turn to crime. But I I'm more concerned about the effect on people's lives on that you know. I'd love to see this intensive research not crying but on on people's mental health when they reach adulthood on diagnosis that we make on basically curtailing the damage. Those are the things that I'm really more interested in than looking at crime rates. Yeah so clearly beyond environmental pollution which seems to be the primary threat that you outlined. I also thought it was really interesting when you go into infectious diseases. And all of these things that are happening primarily in the south primarily as climate warms that we of course assumed. We're not here and how they're impacting vulnerable populations and their intelligence as well. So can you take us through Hookworm Chagas like what people are you know the staggering things people are finding yes written a story for the American scholar in which I talk about the fact that these neglected tropical diseases that everybody knows are causing not only physical harmed but cognitive harms in the global south? If you go to Brazil if you go to tyler if you go to Nigeria. You're gonNA find these infections. That have been documented to lower people's intelligence and to increase the rate of mental disorders. So we know that. But there's been a very strong animus against admitting those diseases are also here. They're here not because our climate is getting warmer but because the US has always had pockets where we have a very warm climate revering unusual for a developed country must industrial company treats are not as warm. It's our country is but parts of our country are subtropical the same disorders that flourish in the global south are flourishing in Texas Texas. The epicenter for diseases like Chagos toxic crisis that's A TUX OF PLASMA Gandhi. Still crisis. I mean all these diseases. That are devastating. The global south are devastating The southern part of our country and many of them have devastating effects on the brain. Probably the most you know it's like a horror movie. The most frightening horror show example of that is the fact that trick unnecess- which were familiar with as infecting pork and then infecting people's intestinal tracts can also infect your brain You know in the global south that often infects brain. You have actually have larvae in people's brains and causes epilepsy. Mental retardation very often death and it has become a very major cause of epilepsy in this country. But for a long time doctors had a difficult time seeing that it was the same disorder. So we have all these diseases causing dramatic cognitive problems mental health problems brain problems in the in the southern parts of this country and they also are causing a lowering of IQ allowing intelligence so that you can actually track infection. An I Q and see that. They're on a parallel track as you lower infections. Iq's rise and vice versa. You go back to minute. Iq because we've only talked about the fact that I q is not a reliable of people's cognitive potential but his reliable gauge of people's cognitive achievement. That's why it's still useful for measuring the damage caused by toxins and pathogens. So it can show you where there has been damage to the brain that results in lower. Iq It can't tell you what potentials which are actually going to do with your life which are capable of doing and a really good example of that is in Nigeria. There's an area Nigeria where they happen for different reasons to test the IQ's off fourteen years apart now. Fourteen years is not enough time for anybody. Genetics A- change or hereditary. I have to admit that a big change in Iq. Fourteen years can't be laid to genetics. And that's what they found in Kenya the IQ's left eighteen points on average within fourteen years. And what happened in Kenya in that part of Kenya? There was a public health initiatives. That were very successful. They radically that a lot of infectious disease And as a result you saw people's Iq Metra Dyke's up. Sue kind of thing that happens when you actually attack the source brain damage. Yeah I mean you cite that. In Alabama Lounges County. Which I just butchered that. I'm sure. Sixty seven percent believe are infected by Hookworm the National School of Tropical Medicine estimates. The twelve million people are infected. And then you think you say the big five now affect at least fourteen million. Us residents yes. Yes that's a lot of people in a lot of those people are living in poverty now only poverty. This is the interesting thing it not only poverty. What's what's the real dominator. Here is lack of basic services. So you know we are used to having garbage. Collected regularly were used to having housing. The doesn't have cracks in the open elements into it where you not to living in areas where there are lots of old tires sitting around collecting water from mosquitoes to breed. That's what happens in the global south where these disease vectors like. Mosquitoes breed where garbage sitting around uncollected where these kinds of things breed patent infections. Right that's exactly what happens to these poor areas of Texas or Alabama. You have people living in areas where they're not getting basic services. The garbage is collected. You know their housing is riding so all these things you would think associated with poverty. An often they are. They're also associated with being politically powerless in Houston. Interestingly enough unlike most cities. They don't have zoning so that means that there are areas and cities are protected from certain uses. So you can much more easily have refinery PLOP down next to your house You know you wouldn't be allowed to do that in many states so often. You're talking about middle class suburban communities who for whatever reason you have services being withheld from them kind of thing that you saw in with Hurricane Katrina after rebuilding rebuilding. Wasn't you know equal? We've done better in some places a lot others other someplace. Never rebuilt places weren't rebuilt. You know had a lot of breeding ground for insects. Things like that so it's not always income that but there are a lot of things that we associate with being poor that actually you can associate with being African American or Hispanic in an area where you're not getting the services at your texts are paying for. Yeah so besides voting. What can people do both to protect their families and also to try to rail against these injustices or start to help to to make something happen here at sixty four thousand dollar question. I mean I had two chapters in the book that talks about exactly what people can do but I have to. Preface is saying. It's not really something that can be solved by individual. Yeah not personal responsibility issue. Exactly exactly. Our government should be taking leadership here is not is doing quite the opposite to EPA under trump has rolled back all the advances that were made since the Nixon administration. We'd been doing a you know we've been making forward progress not enough progress. I would say but we were going in the right direction. We're no longer going in the right direction. We're not going backwards. So the first thing that we need is stronger. Epa But individuals can't change that individuals can do it's changed their environment to minimize the heartens and talk and chapter six a great detail about that. But if I had to give a just a few points I would say that if your air quality is a problem often is for African Americans and Hispanics. Then run your air conditioner as much as you can afford to keep your keep your windows and doors shut. It's expensive sometimes. There's there is funding available for that but not always also in your homes. Do Your best to read your homes of dust and vermin many vermin. Carry the pathogens that Cause Mental Disorders. Things like cockroaches dust mites and they're limited in what you can do there too because of you are renting a home your it's up to the landlord but landlords are also governed by municipal laws. That say they have to maintain vermin free environment. Use that as leverage and get together with your you know other people in your building. If you have to vacuum frequently with help him vacuums so these things you can do also controlled type of food that you eat the comes into your home. A lot of food in this country is tainted in fact. I point out in this book that for most Americans. I don't mean Americans of color for most Americans children's largest source of of lead is what baby food every year consumer reports report showing that baby food has has led and it's pesticides in it so. I talk about preparing your own food. Finding safe sources of food finding safe containers canning those kind of things. These are all things you can do. That will minimize the effects and then you also need to try to do attack things that individuals can attack and to do that. You should organize your community. And I point out that you shouldn't try to reinvent the wheel other groups have done this and they're also resources for you really good ones like there are lawyers of Earth Justice Who are dedicated to helping communities? I'm getting rid of the toxic conditions in their area and deal with the laws forcing the government to do the right thing. So I pointed out in the book how to reach out to them how to organize with other ways in your area and there's strength in numbers. I really liken it to the civil rights movement because quite frankly. I'm old enough to remember what I find really interesting. Is that you when you read about it now it all. It sounds like it was something that all Americans behind that everyone had the support of all Americans in ruins saying Koumba. That is not what it was like. You know people who were civil rights. Agitators were often decried as criminals. People were invoking law and order. I mean everyday people. Many people took a very dim view of the civil rights movement until they won. And I think we're in the same situation. Now there's no arguing that things look bleak from the trump EPA being dismantled by the day very scary to think about with the almost universal assaults on communities of color it's very intimidating but that doesn't mean that people can't win and one of the important things people have ways one is that they have had allies in civil rights movement. It wasn't just African Americans who are fighting for their there are whites also joining with them. And I think that's really important because it's important your strength in numbers and we're seeing things like the Sierra Club is now taking on some of these problems as part of their own mission. That's a really really important step. I think and so I'm optimistic. Even the face of all these challenges no good well. I'm glad I mean I agree. Like we need to be allies for everyone who thinks that they would have been an abolitionist like now the Thai. Yeah because it's we'RE STILL CLEANING IT UP. It's still perpetuating systemically. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Harry at Washington. Make sure to check out a copy of her book a terrible thing to waste. I highly recommend it. That's it for today's episode. If you have a chance please. Rate and review hit subscribe to keep up with new episodes and pass it along to a friend. Thanks again for joining. I hope you'll come back for more. In the meantime you can check out group DOT com slash podcast.