Air, Metal, and Earth

In 2018, environmental activists partnered with University of California-Irvine and conducted a study of 1,500 soil samples across the city of Santa Ana (CA). The results: Half of the soil samples showed concentrations of lead that were toxic for children.

Lead poisoning is an epidemic that has been ravaging communities of color across the country (and the world) for a hundred years. The story of how it spread to our own backyards has little to do with the individual responsibility of homeowners and parents. This is a story about capitalism, the politics of science, and the subtle (and overt) workings of environmental racism.

This audio documentary follows a group of activists and researchers as they try to unearth decades of neglect, discrimination, and toxic practices in Santa Ana, CA. You will be an active participant in solving the mystery behind pollution maps: Was it lead-based paint, car emissions, farming practices, or metal factories? Each episode will interrogate these usual suspects while also narrating the history of lead and lead poisoning in the United States. You will hear about lead in paint and how its deleterious effects connected to the issue of affordable housing and redlining. You will also learn about the emblematic citrus groves in Orange County and how the use of the automobile resulted in widespread lead poisoning among American children.

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Episodes

1: A Community against Lead

Episode’s info

2: Lead Paint

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