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Wallace, Barbara and Kathy Cooper.

Toronto. NC Press. c1986. 193pp, paper. $9.95, ISBN 0-920053-92-0-CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Elizabeth Woodger

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Lead in our environment? Surely that issue was settled when Canada insisted on providing unleaded gas at the pumps. In a few years our environment will be relatively lead-free. Not so. Researcher Kathy Cooper (previously involved in environmental health issues) has investigated the problem of lead pollution in Canada, especially as it applied to the Niagara Neighbourhood Association, a citizen's group in Toronto that faced major problems from a lead smelter in its residential area. She has found that citizens are uninformed and that government regulations are not up to United States standards. In this well-researched and carefully documented book, she attempts to inform Canadians of the risks they undergo. She points out the health hazards of exposure to lead, especially the dangers to children who are much more susceptible than adults. Of interest are the references to lead exposure under the Egyptians and the Romans, though neither of these could approach the lead contamination introduced into our society when gas companies in the 1920s discovered that adding lead to gas gave extra power. The ice in the polar caps reflects the lead levels that increased after the industrial revolution and soared with the development of leaded gasoline in motor vehicles.

How do we interpret lead levels as revealed in medical testing? Are there steps we can take to protect our health when we have a greater understanding of the issues involved? The description of lifestyle changes recommended is one of the most interesting parts of this book. The Citizen's Guide to Lead is highly recommended for purchase by high school and public libraries that provide information on environmental issues.

Elizabeth Woodger, Msgr. Doyle Catholic S.S., Cambridge, Ont.
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