November 21, 2019
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New York Times Journalist to Speak about Arsenic and Human Health

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MDI Biological Laboratory | BDN
MDI Biological Laboratory | BDN
Deborah Blum

BAR HARBOR – Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author, will give a talk entitled, “In the Poisoner’s Cupboard: A history of arsenic in human health (and homicide)” at the MDI Biological Laboratory at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 13.

Blum writes the “Poison Pen” blog for the New York Times. Her best-selling book, The Poisoner’s Handbook, about Jazz-Age New York, murder, and the birth of forensic science, was recently made into a PBS film. Currently a professor of science journalism at the University of Wisconsin, in 2015 Blum will become the director of MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program.

Blum’s talk, which is free and open to the public, will serve as the keynote address for the 2014 Human Environmental and Sustainability Summit. The three-day summit will focus on solutions to reduce the human health consequences of arsenic in the environment, primarily well water and food.

The summit at the MDI Biological Laboratory will convene leading scientists, government officials, educators, and top-level representatives from industry, agriculture, and the nonprofit sector to identify and commit to a concrete action plan addressing the human health challenges posed by arsenic. Participation in the summit is by invitation only.

Arsenic has been deemed to have the greatest impact on human health of any environmental contaminant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization. In Maine, it is estimated that up to 10% of residential wells contain elevated arsenic levels. Drinking water with even low levels of arsenic has been linked to health problems such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and reproductive and developmental problems.

Blum’s talk will also be the 2014 Kinter Lecture, named in memory of Dr. William B. Kinter, who conducted breakthrough research at the MDI Biological Laboratory on the effects of toxic compounds in the environment, including DDT and crude oil. A reception sponsored by Nature’s One will follow the lecture. For more information, visit or call 288-3147.