A new study on lead pollution and crime indicates that even relatively low exposure can affect a child for life. The researchers found that regardless of socioeconomic or other factors, children exposed to lead developed smaller brains, particularly in the areas that regulate attention, impulse control and decision-making. They were more likely to be arrested for violent crimes. It was reported that the higher the concentration of lead in the blood, the more likely was a criminal future, but negative effects were seen even among those with lead levels that are common among children today. The children with brain damage were obvious victims of lead exposure. The victims of their crimes and the taxpayers who paid for policing and prisons are also victims of the lead exposure to the young children.
Even though the United States has sharply curtailed the use of lead, banning it from gasoline and paint, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 310,000 preschool-age children still have levels of the heavy metal that exceed federal guidelines. The latest study indicates that there might be damage even at levels within the guidelines. The lead study took three decades to complete. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did little for 16 years in acting on Congressionally-ordered regulations for lead paint removal. It also has been stalling on meaningful rules for mercury, another heavy metal that affects the brain. It will probably be years before the public learns the real costs for these delays. At least the CDC recommends that all children be tested for lead, and that should be done.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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