LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 14 Number 1, October  2013, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Editor-in-Chief: Elizabeth O’Brien, Editorial Team: Hitesh Lohani, Anne Roberts and David Ratcliffe

About Us
bell system lead poisoning
Contact Us
Council Lead Project
Library-Fact Sheets
Home Page
Media Releases
Referral Lists
Site Map
Slide Shows-Films
Useful Links

Visitor Number


Lead in Literature: The Great Gatsby

Quote from The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Already it was deep summer on roadhouse roofs and in front of wayside garages, where new red gas-pumps sat out in pools of light, and when I reached my estate at West Egg I ran the car under its shed and sat for a while on an abandoned grass roller in the yard.

red gas-pumps

76 cm high gas petrol pump cabinet


This 76 cm high gas petrol pump cabinet is made from wood and available to purchase from http://www.popartdecoration.com/store/themes-motifs/vehicles-formula-1/gas-pump-cabinet-red-2281/

Ethyl is the original manufacturer of Tetraethyl Lead (TEL) – the lead additive in petrol.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot, Published by Picador, 1st published 2010 by Crown Publishers, US. Extracts about lead chosen by Elizabeth O’Brien, and typed by Gordon Lai, Volunteers at The LEAD Group Inc

The word HeLa, used to refer to the cells grown from Henrietta Lack’s cervix, occurs throughout the book. It is pronounced hee-lah.

Back Cover Blurb:

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists knew her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells – taken without her knowledge – became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first ‘immortal’ human tissue grown in culture, HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks herself remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Page 46, 47 and 48 PART ONE: LIFE; Chapter 5: “Blackness be Spreadin all Inside”

The tumor had completely vanished from the radium treatments. The radiation treatments were just to make sure there were no cancer cells left anywhere inside her… each morning at Hopkins for her radiation treatments. She’d change into a surgical gown, lie on an exam table with an enormous machine mounted on the wall above her, and a doctor would put strips of lead inside her vagina to protect her colon and lower spine from the radiation. On the first day he tattooed two black dots with temporary ink on either side of her abdomen, just over her uterus. They were targets, so he could aim the radiation into the same area each day, but rotate between spots to avoid burning her skin too much in one place…Toward the end of her treatments, Henrietta asked her doctor when she’d be better so she could have another child. Until that moment, Henrietta didn’t know that the treatment had left her infertile.

In Henrietta’s medical record one of her doctors wrote, “Told she could not have any more children. Says if she had been told so before, she would not have gone through with treatment.” But by the time she found out, it was too late.

Page 127 PART TWO: DEATH; Chapter 17: Illegal, Immoral, and Deplorable

As HeLa grew like crabgrass in laboratories around the world, a virologist named Chester Southam had a frightening thought. What if Henrietta’s cancer cells could infect the scientists working on them?

…Researchers were breathing in the air around HeLa cells, touching them and transferring them from vial to vial, even eating lunch at lab tables beside them. One had used them to grow a vaccine for a common-cold-like virus, which he’d injected – along with bits of HeLa – into more than four hundred people. [Southam went on to experiment with injecting HeLa cells into cancer patients, prisoner volunteers and gynecologic surgery patients to see whether the cells were as malignant in other people as they were in Henrietta. Southam “didn’t tell patients the cells were cancerous because he didn’t want to cause any unnecessary fear.”]

Page 167 and 168 PART TWO: DEATH; Chapter 21: Night Doctors

…But the history of Hopkins Hospital certainly isn’t pristine when it comes to black patients. In 1969, a Hopkins researcher used blood samples from more than 7,000 neighborhood children most of them from poor black families – to look for a genetic predisposition to criminal behavior. The researcher didn’t get consent. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit claiming the study violated the boys’ civil rights and breached confidentiality of doctor-patient relationships by releasing results to state and juvenile courts. The study was halted, then resumed a few months later using consent forms.

And in the late nineties, two women sued Hopkins claiming that its researchers had knowingly exposed their children to lead, and hadn’t promptly informed them when blood tests revealed that their children had elevated lead levels – even when one developed lead poisoning. The research was part of a study examining lead abatement methods, and all families involved were black. The researchers had treated several homes to varying degrees, then encouraged landlords to rent those homes to families with children so they could then monitor the children’s lead levels. Initially, the case was dismissed. On appeal, one judge compared the study to Southam’s HeLa injections, the Tuskegee [syphilis] study, and Nazi research, and the case eventually settled out of court. The Department of Health and Human Services launched an investigation and concluded that the study’s consent forms “failed to provide an adequate description” of the different levels of lead abatement in the homes. But today when people talk about the history of Hopkins’s relationship with the black community, the story many of them hold up as the worst offense is that of Henrietta Lacks – a black woman whose body, they say, was exploited by white scientists.

Contents | Next Item | Previous Item

About Us | bell system lead poisoning | Contact Us | Council LEAD Project | egroups | Library - Fact Sheets | Home Page | Media Releases
| Q & A | Referral lists | Reports | Site Map | Slide Shows - Films | Subscription | Useful LinksSearch this Site

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer

Last Updated 11 November 2013
Copyright © The LEAD Group Inc. 1991- 2013
PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9716 0014