University News

Morrow Lecture to Focus on Lead Poisoning

March 28, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 310,000 U.S. children ages one through five have blood lead levels greater than the CDC recommended level of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.

Western Illinois University's College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) will bring lead poisoning to the forefront through the 19th Annual Roger and Jean Morrow Distinguished Lecture Wednesday, April 4. Dr. Herbert Needleman, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, will present "The Past, Present, and Future of Childhood Lead Poisoning" at 7 p.m. in the University Union Sandburg Theatre on the WIU-Macomb campus. Needleman's lecture is open free to the public.

According to CAS Dean Inessa Levi, Needleman is a distinguished researcher who, having determined the developmental implications of excessive exposure to lead, has worked tirelessly and at great personal cost to force governments and industry to confront the implications of his findings.

"While this has made him the target of frequent attacks, he has fought off his critics with courage, tenacity and dignity," Levi explained. "Dr. Needleman's work was instrumental in the decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate the removal of lead from gasoline and by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban lead from interior paints."

Additionally, Needleman's studies prompted the Department of Housing and Urban Development to remove lead from thousands of housing units across the country. Despite having already played a key role in one of the greatest environmental health gains of modern times -- a five-fold reduction in the prevalence of lead poisoning in America -- Needleman continues his work as a medical educator and writer who remains committed to eradicating pediatric lead poisoning and reducing the hazards of lead-based paint in the homes of those living in inner cities.

Needleman has received the Rachel Carson Award for Integrity in Science, the Distinguished Investigator Award from the Society of Toxicology, the Prince Mahidol Award for public health research and the Heinz Award in the Environment for his contributions to the understanding and prevention of childhood lead poisoning.

The Morrow lecture series is named for a former biological sciences faculty member, Jean Morrow, and the former chair of the WIU physics department, Roger Morrow. An endowment gift funds the annual lecture series.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing