Defense of studies of lead overlooks researchers...


September 02, 2001

Defense of studies of lead overlooks researchers' mistakes

Don Ryan's defense of the Johns Hopkins researchers who studied lead paint abatement methods with human subjects is misleading ("Research on lead hazards is solution, not problem," Opinion*Commentary, Aug. 28).

Mr. Ryan argues that the abatement measures implemented by the researchers made the housing safer for the children. He neglects to mention the following facts, all noted in the Maryland Court of Appeals' decision in the case:

The researchers helped landlords to recruit families with young children to live in the homes.

To protect their data, the researchers disqualified from study families who had any intention of moving before the study was complete.

One child suffered an elevated blood lead level of 32 micrograms per deciliter - three times the safe level established by the Centers for Disease Control and, according to Dr. Julian Chisolm's own work, more than enough to cause permanent brain damage.

The researchers knew of her condition but neither notified her mother nor offered medical intervention.

The Johns Hopkins study was rooted in a Maryland law passed several years ago that immunizes landlords from liability for poisoning children if they implement modest cleanup measures. The study was trying to find out whether these half-measures worked to protect children.

Obviously, those measures did not work in some cases, and children were severely poisoned in housing that had been "cleaned up."

The legislature should revisit the fairness of the law and the consistency of its implementation.

Rena I. Steinzor


The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

`Voodoo' budget imperils retirement income of the poor

President Bush, the new master of voodoo economics, has done it already: The government needs to dip into Social Security funds ("Numbers indicate U.S. will have to dip into Social Security," Aug. 29).

What keeps me from laughing is the fact that it's the poor and the lower-middle class folks who ultimately will be affected, while the wealthy will go free since they don't need the Social Security funds.

Elke Straub


Instead of invading Social Security, why don't we just repeal the tax cut?

Meantime, let's start proceedings to impeach the president - for gross mismanagement, for abrogating treaties, for destroying the environment.

These are far more serious issues than a sex scandal.

Florence Silverman


Police were quick to deem Santiago shooting `justifiable'

I am disturbed by the apparent nonchalance with which a Baltimore police spokesman will say shooting first and asking questions later "looks like a justifiable use of force."

I'm referring, of course, to the shooting of Jose Luis Santiago by a veteran police officer on Aug. 25 ("Man injured in shooting by police," Aug. 26).

Mr. Santiago was carrying in his waistband what the officer thought looked like a .45-caliber handgun, but was really a pellet gun. Was he so menacing that the officer had no choice but to pop him twice? Is this really considered acceptable police practice?

Perhaps Mr. Santiago's real crime that night was to have appeared to have been drinking, but not dropping his cash down at the Inner Harbor like so many other more affluent revelers.

Or, maybe, because of his difficulty with English, he didn't fully realize the police had, like some ruling junta, assumed absolute authority on Baltimore streets.

Phillip Bruso


Condition of stadium dishonors our veterans

The sorry state of Memorial Stadium, after these many months, demands resolution ("End Zone," Aug. 26).

Even in horrible disrepair, the stadium has been able to generate income through the sale of its components.

But the memorial itself, shabby and in tatters, disgraces the memory of those to whom it was dedicated. This can only be viewed as cynical. We can sell the stadium's bricks and seats, but cannot even decently maintain what is left.

The symbolism of the stadium, a memorial to those who served and died, is a promise that must be kept.

But today, just looking at the shabby shards is depressing. It's a disgrace, not only to our city but to the memory of the men and women whose sacrifice is honored on that hallowed brick edifice.

Allen Yarus


Population pressures degrade bay, environment

A recent letter asked, "Why should a doubling of the U.S. population in the next few decades concern us? America's population more than doubled ... in the last great wave of immigration early in the 20th century" ("Tide of immigrants fosters prosperity and vitality," Aug. 21).

Unfortunately, the writer seems unaware of the difference between the America of the early 1900s and of 2001.

Resources and opportunities seemed limitless 100 years ago, as the Industrial Revolution blossomed and land for development appeared endless.

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