[A] heart-wrenching exposé ... Citing cases around the United States, Washington clearly presents her research on the expansive effects of toxins, heavy metals, and even drugs that are disproportionately funneled into marginalized communities of color ... She also provides a helpful glossary and long list of 'Known Chemical Brain Drainers' ... A devastatingly important read.
...just as the loss of certain species of small animals seemed less important before the publication of Carson’s book, a few IQ points might seem insignificant to most Americans now. That shortsightedness will change after they’ve read Washington’s book. This Shearing Fellow has written a fact-based analysis with conclusions that should absolutely animate us all ... She cuts through the crap that reeks of 400 years of racist attitudes to identify the biological consequences of 400 years of racist practice ... In her ardent call to arms, Harriet A. Washington examines the microbes that reduce intelligence in floods, hurricanes, and other everyday disasters caused by environmental hazards. Washington excavates the history of environmental racism with a clear eye on the future ... Washington’s book is a unifier, an effort to make us all realize that, '[d]espite the tensions that have driven our perception of this problem, we will rise or fall together, not as separate ethnic groups.' Therefore, Washington insists that we 'must topple the barriers to optimal intelligence for all Americans.'
In chapters jam-packed with statistics and scientific findings, Washington shows that blacks get Alzheimer’s at twice the rate of suburban whites who don’t live with the same polluted air, soil and water ... There is also a lot of repetition. The book could have been a faster read with even more impact given some more editing. But overall, it is a shocking wakeup call to end the voluntary stupidity that racism foists on the vulnerable.
[A] searing indictment ... Washington persuasively argues that environmental toxins are much more prevalent in areas where marginalized people live ... Washington offers anecdotal evidence and damning data ... The structure of the book leads to frequent repetition, and the intended audience seems to switch from policy makers and Washington’s fellow researchers to parents ... Nonetheless, this urgent chronicle of ongoing damage will be eye-opening for many readers.