Lex van Geen - Research Professor - Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

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Geochemist Lex van Geen is a research professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and is member of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. His research focuses on ways to reduce the impact of the environment on human health. For two decades, he coordinated earth-science on the origin and health effects of elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater. His other projects focus on fluoride in groundwater in India, bauxite dust in Guinea, or soil contaminated with lead from mine-tailings in Peru, and fallout of lead over Paris following the fire in Notre Dame. Dr. Van Geen is a firm believer in the more widespread use of field kits by non-specialists to reduce exposure to environmental toxicants.

"Certain areas of the city of Newark have a very high proportion of children with elevated levels of lead in the blood. There could be various reasons for that. It could be the paint, it could be the soil and areas where they play and because they ingest the soil, they could be exposed, or it could be the water. Water has been in the news, but it's probably less likely to be the cause than the paint and maybe the paint contaminating the soil. What we want to do is offer a service testing, so we'll do a testing using our kits, but just as importantly, we want to be in a position to certify if a home is safe. So we will say, you can use these kits as screening tools, and then we will help you access the services that are available for free from the city of Newark.

So a child plays on the ground, puts things in the mouth... Children who are exposed to these higher levels of lead have been shown to have reduced intellectual function, their lifelong earnings are affected, young boys often are more likely to have behavioral issues at school and even end up as juvenile delinquents if they had been exposed to lead as a child.”

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