Posted by Maria Mangicaro
Bullying Prevention Advocate
Lead poisoning is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the rising incidence of crime in our society. But the results of a new report indicate that lead may possess qualities of a criminal element and juvenile delinquency.
How can lead poisoning lead to crime?
For decades, parents have been warned about the dangers of lead poisoning. Lead is a common but toxic element found throughout the environment, in items ranging from old paint (applied before 1978, still found in many old buildings), children’s toys and school supplies, old water pipes, soil, the air, and water.
Children who are exposed to lead can experience a wide range of symptoms, some of which are not immediately evident. Therefore, in addition to headache, low energy, constipation, and abdominal pain, children can develop learning disabilities, aggressive behavior, kidney damage, reduced IQ, hearing difficulties, and attention problems.
According to Summer Miller of Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, exposure to toxic levels of lead among children may result in juvenile delinquency. In fact, it doesn’t take much exposure to cause toxicity: “levels as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter show enough lead exposure to diagnose lead poisoning,” noted Miller, even though other research state 45 mcg/dl as the cut off point.
Miller also pointed out that published studies have shown that exposure to lead and crime are associated with evidence of poor intelligence, bullying and other behavioral problems, and poor communication skills. Among those earlier studies is one from Columbia University.