Kudos to the Baltimore Sun. Reporters Kelly Brewington and David Kohn gaze long at the history behind the recent news flurry over a Johns Hopkins med center study. Doctors there applied to household yards – with, they say, full informed consent of property owners – a fertilizer derived from treated sewage. They wanted to see if it immobilizes potentially toxic lead in the soil of neighborhoods where such pollution has been a problem.
While the story largely exonerates the medical center, it provides interested readers with a solid review of the often-uneasy relations between this top flight medical school and its poor and largely black neighbors. Tuskegee comes up, in reference to infamous experiments by federal researchers in Alabama on poor, black men with syphilis. Many of the uninformed subjects were merely monitored, not treated, to see what would happen. One can imagine how spreading treated sewage in properties of the poor, to see what would happen, might arouse harsh suspicion. The current news seems to be as much about perception and distrust as it is about any markedly unethical behavior – this story by the Sun may clear the air a bit for all concerned.
See Also: Earlier Post Apr. 15 ;