Cut Crime, Boost Growth, Get Rid of Lead

The country scrubbed its air of the heavy metal. Now it needs to get the stuff out of drinking water.

Your household water filter doesn't make much difference either.

Photographer: Sarah Rice/Getty Images

When I was a kid, adults told me that the Roman Empire fell because they used lead plumbing. Lead poisoning made them all go crazy, after which they surrendered the keys to the Visigoth conquerors. It was years before I learned that the grownups were pulling my leg. And yet now, in a “truth is stranger than historical fiction” sort of way, I’m discovering that lead pollution is actually an important issue in our modern Rome, the U.S.

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