New York Today: Lead Exposure, Present and Past

New York Today

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Free filters were distributed last month in Newark after elevated levels of lead were found in the city’s tap water.CreditCreditSarah Blesener for The New York Times
Nov. 1, 2018

Good morning on this bright November Thursday.

On the heels of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., there is a widespread lead problem in Newark, New Jersey’s most populous city.

A recent study confirmed high levels of lead in Newark’s tap water despite city officials denying the issue for more than a year.

There is particular concern about the risks posed to young children — no amount of lead exposure is known to be safe for them. The city was giving away thousands of water filters to residents.

[Read more about Newark’s water crisis]

Lead exposure is a danger that has spanned countries, continents and even millenniums.

Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who have been studying exposure in humans, released a report on Wednesday indicating that they had evidence of lead exposure in Neanderthals, the extinct human relatives, from 250,000 years ago.

It is one of the earliest known occurrences of lead exposure in a species similar to humans, they said.

The team — archaeologists, earth scientists, biological anthropologists and environmental exposure experts — examined teeth from two Neanderthals in France.

By looking at growth rings on the teeth — marks that the researchers likened to the growth rings of a tree, which can be used to learn about its history — they determined that the Neanderthals had experienced short-term lead exposure during colder seasons.

The culprit was probably contaminated food or water, they said, noting that the Neanderthals also may have breathed fires containing lead.

“Traditionally, people thought lead exposure occurred in populations only after industrialization, but these results show it happened prehistorically, before lead had been widely released into the environment,” Dr. Christine Austin, one of the study’s lead authors, said.

“Our team plans to analyze more teeth from our ancestors and investigate how lead exposures may have affected their health and how that may relate to how our bodies respond to lead today,” added Dr. Austin, who is an assistant professor in Mount Sinai’s Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health.

Here’s what else is happening:

Weather

What a wonderful way to welcome November.

We’re warming to the high 60s, with partly sunny skies preceding a couple of rainy days.

We’ll take it, fall.

In the News

Baby Antonio was born homeless. He was one of 11,234 children under the age of 6 living in New York City’s shelter system. [New York Times]

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Antonio and his parents, Shimika Sanchez and Tony Sanchez.CreditGabriella Angotti-Jones/The New York Times

An auxiliary Catholic bishop in New York has been accused of sexual abuse and removed from his public ministry. [New York Times]

The lone debate between Letitia James and Keith H. Wofford, candidates for New York attorney general, offered the clear differences between them. [New York Times]

Hate crimes in New York City are largely driven by incidents of anti-Semitism. And the aggressors don’t conform to an easy profile. [New York Times]

Democrats are scrambling to save Senator Bob Menendez’s candidacy in New Jersey. [New York Times]

Senator Cory Booker, Gov. Philip D. Murphy and Senator Bob Menendez.CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

Court papers revealed that the pipe bomb suspect planned his campaign for more than three months. [New York Times]

A Bronx man was arrested in connection with the death of Lyric McHenry, a budding film producer. [New York Times]

Police arrested a 24-year-old woman on charges that she fatally stabbed her 70-year-old neighbor inside the older woman’s Upper West Side apartment. [New York Times]

A colorful duck was spotted in the Central Park Pond, stunning bird watchers and the internet. [New York Times]

A popular trick-or-treating spot in Brooklyn Heights was vandalized with swastikas and racial slurs. [NBC New York]

For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.

Coming Up Today

In honor of National Opera Week, New York’s Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers presents the webcast Six Centuries of Opera and Media Technology in New York. 1 p.m. [Free, register here]

All Faces All Races, a discussion with Assembly members, lawyers and activists about immigration reform and the role of black immigrants in American society, at N.Y.U. Law School. 6 p.m. [Free]

Fall Fireside Feast, a hearth cooking lesson using crops grown on an urban farm, followed by a cider pressing and spirit tasting, at the Wyckoff House Museum in Brooklyn. 6 p.m. [$35]

“Beethoven: Intimate Letters,” a performance by the Ariel String Quartet with wine and refreshments, at the Italian Academy at Columbia University in Morningside Heights. 7:30 p.m. [$45]

#VoteTogether, an organization working to make voting more fun, inclusive and accessible, hosts a comedy show celebrating voting, at Brooklyn Brewery. 8 p.m. [Free R.S.V.P. encouraged.]

The two-week series “Marie Losier: Just a Million Dreams,” featuring short and feature-length films by the French artist, begins at the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown. Times vary. [$25]

Islanders host Penguins, 7 p.m. (MSG). Devils at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (MSG+). Rangers at Ducks, 10 p.m. (MSG).

Alternate-side parking is suspended.

For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

Metropolitan Diary

Steve, Eddie and Max

Dear Diary:

I was near Exit 23 on the Grand Central Parkway on the way home when my car started to smoke. I pulled over and called AAA.

While I waited for a tow truck to arrive, a car from the traffic division pulled up. The driver asked if he could help. His name was Steve. He called the tow truck company and urged them to hurry.

A tow truck soon arrived. The driver’s name was Eddie.

As he pulled around in front of my car, there was a crash. The driver of one of the cars in the line of parkway traffic had apparently not noticed when the car in front of hers stopped. Her car and the one she hit were damaged, and she was injured from the steering wheel digging into her chest.

Steve, Eddie and I helped the woman sit down. Eddie called her daughter to tell her what had happened. He and Steve pushed the woman’s car off the highway.

Eddie put my car on the truck, and we drove off. He suggested that we could drive to a AAA repair shop about 15 blocks away. My repair shop was expensive and in Manhattan.

“Why not?” I said.

At the repair shop, I met Max. He said he would examine the car and give me an estimate the next morning. Eddie said he was going back to the crash scene to see if the woman there still needed help.

Max called the next morning. He gave me an estimate that was about a third of what my repair shop would have charged, and he said the car would be ready later in the day.

As difficult as it was to get to Max’s shop, I plan to go there anytime my car has trouble.

Leon Friedman

And Finally ...
Foliage in full force.CreditJulio Cortez/Associated Press

For those living and working in New York City, it can be easy to miss fall flying by.

Don’t get out much? Check in every now and then with the Fall Color Cam.

This is the New York Botanical Garden’s equivalent of the perpetual fireplace that airs on television during the winter holidays.

It is a live video stream from the garden’s Thain Family Forest, home to trees dating back to the Revolutionary War. If you are sitting in a skyscraper as you read this, either looking at a drab wall or out the window at concrete, to see vibrant leaves, rustling branches and a bubbling stream.

It’s truly delightful.

“With all the early autumn rain and warm weather in New York City, the fall foliage season started a little later this year, but now it is in full swing,” said Deanna Curtis, the garden’s curator of woody plants and landscape project manager.

The garden’s “maples, sweet gums, dogwoods and hickories have turned a gorgeous mix of autumnal hues. As long as these cool sunny days continue, we are set up for a very colorful season.”

You can also join Fall Forest Weekends — this weekend and next around the garden in the Bronx — for guided hikes, Shakespearean performances, canoe excursions along the Bronx River and other outdoor activities.

New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at [email protected], or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

Follow the New York Today columnists, Alexandra S. Levine and Jonathan Wolfe, on Twitter.

You can find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.

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