“Passing Down Pollution”: (Inter)generational Toxicology and (Epi)genetic Environmental Health


Concern about the harmful health effects of industrial pollution is increasingly taking on an intergenerational dimension. In environmental health sciences such as toxicology, this has resulted in emphasizing the influence of toxic chemicals, substances, and situations across generations. Toxic relationalities are now being explored through research on gene-environment interaction, including toxicogenomics and epigenetic research through animal experiments and birth cohort studies. Based on fieldwork conducted among reproductive and developmental toxicologists working in Nanjing, China, this article shows how toxicological research both expresses and produces renewed anxieties about “passing down pollution.” These toxicological accounts of intergenerational harm problematically work through overly simplistic renderings of reproduction and biological relatedness. But they also have the potential to catalyze creative understandings of toxic relationalities and responsibilities at a moment when making kin is increasingly seen as key to securing livable futures. [toxicology, environment, epigenetics, kinship, China].

Authors: Janelle Lamoreaux
; Full Source: Medical anthropology quarterly 2021 Dec;35(4):529-546. doi: 10.1111/maq.12679.