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criminal behavior

Lead Poisoning and Criminal Behavior: Can there really be a link?

Lead Poisoning and Criminal Behavior: Can there really be a link?

     The recent death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray, who’s spinal cord was apparently snapped when in police custody, has sparked not only an investigation into police practices but has also reinvigorated the discussion around the potential effects of lead poisoning in children.  Despite long being known to be harmful, the effects of lead paint in the homes of children are still being discovered and surprisingly, are still having an effect.  The question of the moment, though, is can lead poisoning in children ultimately lead to criminal behavior in adults?

 Lead Paint and its Effects

     Although the practice of putting lead into paint was banned in 1978, many homes, especially in poor socio-economic areas, still have lead paint on the interior and exterior walls.  In time, this paint deteriorates and will chip or release dust that can either be breathed in or more likely swallowed by children.  It wasn’t so long ago that 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood was considered a safe level.  However in 2012, following a 30 year study into the effects of lead poisoning, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced that number to just five micrograms per deciliter.  Now, many argue that there is no safe level at all[1].  What’s even scarier is that in 2007, an estimated 25% of homes still contained deteriorating lead paint and currently, more than four per cent of children in the US have some level of lead poisoning.  These figures rise in big cities and poor urban areas. 

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