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Could the Next Water Crisis Be in Tallahassee?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Backwoods Bistro
401 E. Tennessee St., Tallahassee
(corner of Gadsden St.)

One of the biggest stories of the past few years has been the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where due to insufficient water treatment, more than 100,000 residents were potentially exposed to high levels of lead in the drinking water. The crisis would seem to be almost out of character in a country as developed and wealthy as ours, but is it really all that unthinkable?

In the second Policy Pub session of 2018, Associate Professor of Sociology Katrinell Davis talks about her work on the Flint water crisis and how this kind of disaster could happen in any U.S. city - including Tallahassee.

A host of preventative policies have been implemented to reduce lead levels in public water distribution systems in the US. Despite these efforts, research illustrates that lead poisoning remains a key public health priority, especially among children of color. Difficulties with classifying lead poisoning have not improved matters. A significant number of children whose blood lead level is not classified as elevated are experiencing adverse effects of lead exposure.

"In this talk, I plan to briefly outline research efforts made to expand what we know about the effect of lead exposure," Davis said. "I hope to encourage conversation about why appropriate measures of lead poisoning matter in Flint as well as other poor cities in the US."

As a sociologist presenting at Policy Pub, she will look at the factors that can lead to a crisis anywhere in the country, taking Tallahassee as an example of how it could happen here.

Davis, who is also a faculty associate in the college's African American Studies program, is a social change scholar inspired by the struggles of working class people in urban areas who contend with extraordinary socioeconomic constraints, despite their best efforts. She explores how racial, gender and class biases as well as institutional hurdles shape the accessibility of quality neighborhood resources and how individuals and/or communities navigate existing hurdles.

From the perspective of the social determinants of health, Davis wrote an important paper on "The Public Health Effects of Pre-Flushing and Lead and Copper Rule Compliance in Flint, Michigan” for the publication Environmental Justice in August 2016.

Policy Pubs take place in the relaxed social atmosphere of Backwoods Bistro at the corner of Tennessee and Gadsden streets. Guests can enjoy food and drink from the menu while listening to and talking about the evening’s topic. Because these events are very well attended, the public is encouraged to arrive early to get a good parking spot in the restaurant’s lot or surrounding streets and a good table inside.

The series takes place on the second Tuesdays of the first three months of the year: January 16, February 20, and March 20.

More about Katrinell Davis

Listen to the audio from this Policy Pub session:

Download Dr. Davis's Power Point from the session..