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Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:04 AM

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

Source: Mother Jones

New research finds Pb is the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic. And fixing the problem is a lot cheaper than doing nothing.

óBy Kevin Drum | January/February 2013 Issue

....
That tip took Nevin in a different direction. The biggest source of lead in the postwar era, it turns out, wasn't paint. It was leaded gasoline. And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early '40s through the early '70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same upside-down U pattern. The only thing different was the time period: Crime rates rose dramatically in the '60s through the '80s, and then began dropping steadily starting in the early '90s. The two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.

So Nevin dove in further, digging up detailed data on lead emissions and crime rates to see if the similarity of the curves was as good as it seemed. It turned out to be even better: In a 2000 paper (PDF) he concluded that if you add a lag time of 23 years, lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the '40s and '50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the '60s, '70s, and '80s.
....

Put all this together and you have an astonishing body of evidence. We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.

Read more: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline



Hat tip to the Gothamist:

http://gothamist.com/2013/01/03/broken_windows_theory_broken_by_lea.php

20 replies, 3554 views

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Arrow 20 replies Author Time Post
Reply America's Real Criminal Element: Lead (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jan 2013 OP
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #1
dotymed Jan 2013 #2
AllyCat Jan 2013 #4
csziggy Jan 2013 #10
RC Jan 2013 #12
csziggy Jan 2013 #16
Hekate Jan 2013 #19
Manifestor_of_Light Jan 2013 #3
Remmah2 Jan 2013 #6
toby jo Jan 2013 #5
drm604 Jan 2013 #7
jeff47 Jan 2013 #9
FailureToCommunicate Jan 2013 #13
madokie Jan 2013 #8
L0oniX Jan 2013 #11
Hestia Jan 2013 #14
Brigid Jan 2013 #18
Hestia Jan 2013 #15
Hekate Jan 2013 #20
Hestia Jan 2013 #17

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:16 AM

1. Interesting relationship.

Clever play on words too.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:53 AM

2. I have often wondered about this.

I always thought more of the leaded paint though. In rural Amerika especially, old farm homes and all older homes (older small towns in the midwest have many 100+ y.o. homes and buildings) are full of leaded paint. There is a difference in the people who reside there and people who have always lived in newer homes.
Another concern is dental amalgam. It is full of mercury. I have many old fillings and it is cost prohibitive for me to replace them. I am amazed that "our" govt. didn't require dentists to replace all of these old fillings and bill it to the amalgam manufacturers. The continuous release of mercury, especially when we eat hot foods, is so detrimental to our health. It has been linked to Alzheimer's, m.s., and many horrendous, terminal diseases.
The makers of asbestos, cigarettes, etc. must not be able to lobby like the AMA....the lives of the average American is so expendable..

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Response to dotymed (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:17 AM

4. We live in a city in an old house.

When we bought it, we got a signed document saying the seller had "no knowledge of lead paint" in the house. Of course, once we tested, we found lead paint everywhere, including the kitchen cupboards where plates, cups, and drinking glasses were stored. We have abated as much as we can, but the price is prohibitive and people end up making quick fixes. I've often wondered if we could claim something on our homeowners insurance, but I'm sure that document we signed is there to absolve them of responsibility in paying for it.

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Response to dotymed (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:01 PM

10. Mercury dental amalgams? Myths are flying today!

The "Mercury Toxicity" Scam:
How Anti-Amalgamists Swindle People

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Mercury is a component of the amalgam used for "silver" fillings. The other major ingredients are silver, tin, copper, and zinc. When mixed, these elements bond to form a strong, stable substance. The difference between bound and unbound chemicals can be illustrated by a simple analogy. Elemental hydrogen is an explosive gas. Elemental oxygen is a gas that supports combustion. When combined, however, they form water, which has neither of these effects. Amalgam's ingredients are tightly bonded to each other. Although the types of chemical bonds in water and amalgam differ, saying that amalgam will poison you is just as wrong as saying that drinking water will make you explode and burst into flames.

Very sensitive instruments can detect billionths of a gram of mercury vapor in the mouth of a person with amalgam fillings. However, the minuscule amount of mercury the body absorbs from amalgams is far below the level that exerts any adverse health effect . One study found that people with symptoms they related to amalgam fillings did not have significant mercury levels. The study compared ten symptomatic patients and eight patients with no reported health complaints. The symptom group had neither a higher estimated daily uptake of inhaled mercury vapor, nor a higher mercury concentration in blood and urine than in the control group. The amounts of mercury detected by the tests were trivial . Some studies have shown that the problems patients attribute to amalgam restorations are psychosomatic in nature and have been exacerbated greatly by information from the media or from a dentist

An extensive review published in 1993 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that "there is scant evidence that the health of the vast majority of people with amalgam is compromised or that removing fillings has a beneficial effect on health." In January 1998, the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs issued a report on dental amalgam safety, with emphasis on studies that had been published since the 1993 review. The report concluded:

Millions of people have amalgam restorations in their mouths, and millions more will receive amalgam for restoring their carious teeth. Over the years, amalgam has been used for dental restorations without evidence of major health problems. Newly developed techniques have demonstrated that minute levels of mercury are released from amalgam restorations, but no health consequences from exposure to such low levels of mercury released from amalgam restorations have been demonstrated. Given the available scientific information and considering the demonstrated benefits of dental amalgams, unless new scientific research dictates otherwise, there currently appears to be no justification for discontinuing the use of dental amalgam .


MUCH much more, with references: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/mercury.html


I especially love the part about Huggins, the chief proponent of this myth:
Huggins's dental license was revoked in 1996. During the revocation proceedings, the administrative law judge concluded:

Huggins had diagnosed "mercury toxicity" in all patients who consulted him in his office, even some without mercury fillings.
He had also recommended extraction of all teeth that had had root canal therapy.
Huggins's treatments were "a sham, illusory and without scientific basis."

http://www.casewatch.org/board/dent/huggins/alj.pdf

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Response to csziggy (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:37 PM

12. Another example is Sodium Chloride - Regular table salt

 

Both sodium and chloride are not good for you, but we could not live without the compound of the two.

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Response to RC (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:12 PM

16. Or Hydrogen and Oxygen n/t

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Response to dotymed (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 02:41 PM

19. As your fillings age and wear out, have your dentist replace them with the new material

That's what I did. Fillings wear out with age, as you no doubt know, and you have to replace them anyway. I told my dentist many years ago to just use the new material as each ancient filling crumbled, and gradually the old stuff went bye-bye. I wasn't about to have that much drilling done at once, even if I could afford it. I don't recall if it added any cost to the procedure -- he did have to use new equipment, though, and that might have.

My dentist said that "no one" is using silver amalgam anymore, but I am not sure that is true.

In any case, those of us who had many fillings in our 1950s childhoods are not dropping dead in appreciable numbers from mercury poisoning that I know of, and mercury poisoning has very distinct attributes. Alzheimer's Disease is a thing of its own, and not attributable to mercury.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:06 AM

3. Cadmium, Lead, Mercury.

All in same column in periodic table. Thus have very similar properties.
I go to a mercury-free dentist. They will throw you out of the American Dental Association for speaking out against it.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:36 AM

6. I just did a mercury remediation project for our dental school.

 

Newer dentist are seeing it phased out.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:36 AM

5. Wow - do you think maybe when folks vote Republican that there is a special lead mist that emanates

up to their noses?

Seriously - I bought an old house and went to scrape the walls down - a one-room schoolhouse- and my eyes were tearing up and my nose started running, and this was with a mask on. Next was a wash down with bleach and primer and new paint. * Like that periodic table observation, thanks.

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Response to toby jo (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:30 AM

7. If you suspect that there was lead in that paint you might want to have the house checked by experts

I don't think scraping it off yourself is sufficient. In fact it may make things worse by putting lead in the house dust.

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Response to drm604 (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:59 AM

9. Scraping is sufficient

as long as it removes all the paint. The lead is trapped in the paint, and won't seep into anything else. Including newer layers of paint - the cheapest and easiest remediation.

Generally, one house isn't going to cause a problem to an adult. It can cause problems for kids, so you'll want to keep them away from the dust. And a remediation company will need to take extra precautions, because they're working on lots of houses.

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Response to toby jo (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:53 PM

13. If your eyes were tearing up and nose running, it was unlikely to be lead dust. Blame the

bleach, which could definitely bring on those symptoms.
While bleach may be a good idea if the walls are mildewed, plain old TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) will clean the dust while keeping it all wet to not get into the air.
Still a good idea to wear a real respirator not just a dust mask.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:55 AM

8. WOW

thanks

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:25 PM

11. This only adds to my belief that most criminals have a neural chemical imbalance...

and or exposure to substances that foment a chemical imbalance that over time produce an unlocking of thought process control and lowered IQ. As an example: A meth head can and eventually will go become psychotic. That may be overly simplistic but one could say that it is a base from which to start with when considering the effects of toxins or chemicals on the brain. I have read stats on the percentage of prison population that are mentally impaired or have a very low IQ. I do know that lead will lower ones IQ especially if exposure is in the early childhood years.

For those who really want to apply the Christian belief that one should forgive others ...this is a real reason to forgive.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:55 PM

14. I remember hearing about the original study and the subsequent ones later and it has

really stuck in my mind. Two related thoughts about my old hometown:

1) In the oldest and later poorest neighborhoods, the homes were built on top of lead foundries. The report must have been around the time of HUD trying to abate lead in the U.S because it was also a time of great journalism.

2) we are moving back and are looking for a home to buy (actually found one), and that was one thing I really thought about - beautiful old Victorian's, Queen Anne's and Craftman homes but lead was definitely in the soil. So, our choice is living miles away from there in a newer neighborhood. The disenfranchised have no choice to live there because some yahoo's from NY have come down and convinced the city leaders that people will buy 900 sf condo's for $300k + (or 5000 sq homes for $1.2M) when the average salary is $36k. In "improving" the city, the city has allowed the destruction of low income housing, so now the poor kids are all concentrated in that one particular area.

Is the lead still there? I dunno but it sure looks like I am going to be finding out. It is a crime to allow people to live there when their kids may be inundated with lead - which leads to delinquency in school, low paying wages, hard drug use, hard core gang affiliation, etc.

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Response to Hestia (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:59 PM

18. I saw something about that not long ago.

They're called "ghost factories" or something like that. It's where lead smelting operations once stood. The foundries themselves are long gone, but the soil is heavily contaminated with lead. And the problem is not confined to low-income neighborhoods.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:58 PM

15. This is an extremely interesting paragraph:

Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it's everywhere, all at onceóas both the rise of crime in the '60s and '70s and the fall of crime in the '90s seemed to beóthe cause is a molecule.

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Response to Hestia (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 02:47 PM

20. That's fascinating. Thank you Hestia.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:30 PM

17. I finally read the entire article and it needs to be spread far and wide

Lead poisoning abatement could solve a large part society's ills but also generate revenue ($150B noted earlier in the article).

The last paragraph:

So this is the choice before us: We can either attack crime at its root by getting rid of the remaining lead in our environment, or we can continue our current policy of waiting 20 years and then locking up all the lead-poisoned kids who have turned into criminals. There's always an excuse not to spend more money on a policy as tedious-sounding as lead abatementóbudgets are tight, and research on a problem as complex as crime will never be definitiveóbut the association between lead and crime has, in recent years, become pretty overwhelming. If you gave me the choice, right now, of spending $20 billion less on prisons and cops and spending $20 billion more on getting rid of lead, I'd take the deal in a heartbeat. Not only would solving our lead problem do more than any prison to reduce our crime problem, it would produce smarter, better-adjusted kids in the bargain. There's nothing partisan about this, nothing that should appeal more to one group than another. It's just common sense. Cleaning up the rest of the lead that remains in our environment could turn out to be the cheapest, most effective crime prevention tool we have. And we could start doing it tomorrow.


This is something all sides can agree on - a better society, which then has the IQ level(s) to solve (and WANT to solve) Global Warming. Is it too late? Can we afford not to find out?

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