A Terrible Thing to Waste
A review of

A Terrible Thing to Waste

Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind

Toxins, Disease and Intelligence

by David Meyer

National Book Critics Circle Award winner, medical ethicist Harriet A. Washington reveals startling correlations between proximity to pollution and lower intelligence.

Medical ethicist Harriet A. Washington – winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Medical Apartheid – details how air pollution, untested industrial chemicals, toxic metals and infectious diseases damage children’s brains during early development. Washington illuminates how these factors exact a long-standing intellectual toll – and how that leads to behavioral problems, learning disabilities and decreased IQ – on communities of color. Washington details the history of United States’ bias and corporate greed. This edition also features a new preface regarding risks stemming from COVID-19.

Randy Cohen, the original author of The New York Times Magazine’s “The Ethicist” column, wrote that Washington, “… methodically indicts environmental racism and its catastrophic effects, particularly on the cognitive abilities of America’s children…” Shelf Awareness called this book, “Deeply researched, well written and timelier than ever,” and predicted that it “will necessarily transform public and scientific debates over urban decay, environmental policy and reported racial differences in IQ.”

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