Lead in Pakistan

Following up on yesterday's lead-blogging, Brad Plumer did a post that included this fun factoid: "In Pakistan, some 80 percent of children have dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstream, which in turn affects childhood development and, presumably, intelligence."

Now since the Bush administration is very concerned about Pakistan, this would seem like an obvious area where we could try to help out, which would be good on its own terms and also perhaps strengthen the hand of those in Pakistan inclined to adopt policies that we're inclined to favor. On the other hand "The Bush administration loves lead. Loves it."

They want it everywhere. Okay, that's only a slight exaggeration: Back in 2002, the White House tried to stack an advisory committee on lead regulations with industry types. Last December, the administration announced that it would consider doing away with the standards that cut lead from gasoline, at the behest of battery makers and lead smelters. And its EPA has weakened a rule on removing lead paint from older residences. All that research on the toxic effects of lead exposure? Eh, who needs it.

So you can hardly expect an ambitious effort from them -- it would involve conceding that widespread lead poison constitutes a serious social problem, and you can't have that.

Photo by Flickr user Babasteve used under a Creative Commons license