What Next

There’s Something in the Water

The legacy of lead in America still lives on classroom walls and under kitchen sinks.

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About the Show

The problem with the news right now? It’s everywhere. And each day, it can feel like we’re all just mindlessly scrolling. It’s why we created What Next. This short daily show is here to help you make sense of things. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for new episodes every weekday morning.

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  • Mary Harris is the host and managing editor of What Next, Slate's new daily news podcast. She has reported throughout the public radio system, for NPR, Marketplace, and WNYC.

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Episode Notes

When Christopher Werth saw some paint chips falling off a radiator in his daughter’s New York City classroom, he picked one up and sent it to get tested. The results spurred him to launch a larger investigation into lead exposure in New York City classrooms.

Just across the river in Newark, New Jersey, another city is dealing with its own lead troubles. Elevated levels of the metal have been found in the city’s drinking water.

What do these two cases tell us about the legacy of lead in America? And what can be done about it?

Guest: Christopher Werth, senior editor at WNYC

Podcast production by Mary Wilson and Jayson De Leon.