Drop in aggressive crime parallels ban on leaded gasoline

Lead poisoning can lead to aggressive behaviorIt can be hard to prove the correlation between environmental exposures and health implications. Public health advocates that focus on environmental exposures, often speak about general health trends more then specific causalities. For example, EWG analysis combined with numbers from numerous governmental agencies and independent science reports found that over the past 50 years, chronic conditions without obvious origins have become prevalent. Asthma, autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders (ADD and ADHD), childhood brain cancer and acute lymphocytic leukemia have all increased over the past 30 years. Five to ten percent of American couples are infertile. Up to half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Three to five percent of babies are born with birth defects and so forth. Scientists cannot fully explain these increases, but early life exposure to environmental pollutants is a leading suspect.

Well, now we have further evidence that exposure to environmental toxins effects us. A new study on that subject was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research. The study focused on the reduction on leaded petrol and how that affected crime rates around the world. The research found that “banning lead in petrol is responsible for declining crime rates in Britain, the United States and other countries.”

Besides threatening to overturn current thinking on crime, it provides the data for a wide range of countries, with different social and economic situations. We have known for years that lead, a potent and toxic chemical, can damage the brain and among other things lead to aggressive and criminal behavior. Another study, done at Pittsburgh University, “found that adolescents arrested for crime in the city had lead levels four times higher than their law-abiding contemporaries, and a study of 3,000 possible causes of criminality in 1,000 young people by Fordham University, New York, found that high lead levels were the best predictor of delinquent and violent behavior” according to the article in The Independent.

This is an important study. More work needs to be done on the effects that environmental toxins have on our lives. And we need lead out of our daily products -- like out of lipstick, as I blogged about few weeks ago.

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