Intersection - Lead's Pivotal Role in Missouri's Past, Present and Future

Sep 29, 2017

The remains of the headframe for shaft #25 in what is now St. Joe State Park.
Credit Benjamin Hoste

Lead has played a pivotal role in the history of Missouri. More than 17 million tons of lead have come out of the ground in the state over the last 300 years, and that's left a lasting impact on the state economically, environmentally and culturally. KBIA is exploring that history —and future—in our special series The Legacy of Lead.


This show includes: 

Lead-Based Batteries, Long a Standard, Face New Challenger 

Most car batteries have one element in common: lead. That means we all rely on lead to conduct our daily lives. Nathan Lawrence looks at this transportation standard, and the rise of a new challenger. 

When Did Lead Become Dangerous? How Our Understanding of Risk Changed Over Time

How have concepts of the health risks posed by lead changed over time? From the industrial revolution to today, Bram Sable Smith traces our evolving understanding

County Health Department Educates Residents on Lead Risks 

In some areas of Jefferson County, all children under the age of 6 are required to be tested for lead exposure because of former and current lead mining and smelting operations. Daniela Vidal looks at lead through the work of the Jefferson County Health Department. 

Big River Still Dealing With Lead Mining Waste 

For 200 years, millions of tons of lead were mined from a region in southeast Missouri called the Old Lead Belt. That affected waterways that flow through the region and out to the Mississippi River. Kristofor Husted reports.

Assistant producers for this show are Elena Rivera and Hannah Haynes.