Health economics expert available to discuss elimination of lead pipes provision in Biden's infrastructure bill

LAWRENCE — The Biden administration has proposed devoting $45 billion of its infrastructure bill to eliminating all lead pipes. But do the benefits justify the cost?

David SluskyDavid Slusky, De-Min and Chin-Sha Wu Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Kansas, is available to discuss this significant plan with media. He also has an appointment in the KU Department of Population Health.

“Lead is a terrible neurotoxin that can cause permanent damage to fetal development, executive function and cognition,” he said. “Eliminating lead pipes as a potential source of exposure would yield benefits for generations.”

His recent piece “Impacts of Lead Exposure on Health, Fertility and Education” examines how lead remains both a public health hazard and a convenient material, especially for use in pipes that transport water. But its negative effects have been chronicled for more than 50 years, including its influence on health and as a driver of criminal and delinquent behavior.

Slusky said the benefits of the infrastructure plan would exceed the costs.

“I’ve studied the myriad of consequences of a particular instance when a city in financial turmoil switched water sources and inadvertently leached lead out of its pipes and into its citizens' drinking water,” said Slusky, who has researched the cause and effect extensively, most notably in his published paper “The Impact of the Flint Water Crisis on Fertility.”

Without this bill passing, are we likely to see another Flint-type catastrophe?

According to Slusky, cities such as Newark, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have already recently faced lead-based public health crises.

Slusky earned his doctorate in economics from Princeton University. A KU faculty member since 2015, he specializes in health economics and labor economics.

To schedule an interview with Slusky, please contact KU News Service public affairs officer Jon Niccum at 785-864-7633 or

Thu, 10/28/2021


Jon Niccum

Media Contacts

Jon Niccum

KU News Service