Erin  Brockovich

Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, MI


Dr. David Rosner

Professor, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Erin Brockovich— Industrial Pollution and Toxicity

A post-screening discussion about issues of industrial pollution and toxicity, led by Dr. David Rosner. Part of the 2016 National Evening of Science on Screen.

Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, MI

Film Synopsis

An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply.

Featuring an Oscar-winning performance by Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich tells the story of the real-life single mom and legal assistant who helped bring a California energy giant to its knees. Following a car accident in which she is not at fault, Erin pleads with her attorney Ed Masry (Albert Finney) to hire her at his law firm. Shortly thereafter, Erin stumbles upon some medical records placed in real estate files. She convinces Ed to allow her to investigate, and discovers a cover-up involving contaminated water in a local community, which is causing terrible illnesses among its residents.

About the Speaker

Dr. David Rosner focuses on research at the intersection of public health and social history and the politics of occupational disease and industrial pollution. He has been actively involved in lawsuits on behalf of cities, states, and communities around the nation who are trying to hold the lead industry accountable for past acts that have resulted in tremendous damage to America's children. Cases aimed at removing lead from children's environments and compensating parents and governmental agencies for the costs of care and abatement of hazards in the home environment have grown out of his academic work. His work on the history of industry understanding the harms done by their industrial toxins has been part of lawsuits on behalf of asbestos workers and silicosis victims as well. 

Prior to joining the Columbia faculty in 1998, Dr. Rosner was University Distinguished Professor of History at the City University of New York. In 2010, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences' National Academy of Medicine. In addition to numerous grants, he has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow and a Josiah Macy Fellow. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scholar's Prize from the City University and the Viseltear Prize for Outstanding Work in the History of Public Health from the APHA, among others. Dr. Rosner has also been honored by the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and, with Gerald Markowitz, was awarded the Upton Sinclair Memorial Lectureship "For Outstanding Occupational Health, Safety, and Environmental Journalism by the American Industrial Hygiene Association." Dr. Rosner is an author of many books on occupational disease, epidemics, and public health. Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children (University of California Press/Milbank Fund, 2013) details the recent conflicts at Johns Hopkins over studies of children placed in homes with low level lead exposure and what it says about public health research.