High Lead Blood Levels Factor In Violent Behavior, Study Shows

051116 fp middle fold pix 3By Robert Miranda

Very low levels of lead exposure can cause significant neurologic damage to children and stunt normal brain growth. Such exposure is linked to cognitive and behavioral impairment which influences learning disabilities in children and violent behavior in teens. Low doses of lead can cause shortened attention span and a host of learning disorders that often cause lead-exposed children to perform poorly in school and ultimately to drop out.

It has been more than a few months since the scandal in Flint, Michigan made national news, and in that time many cities around the country scrambled from the scrutiny that was sure to come from the public regarding the safety of their water supply.

Milwaukee was no exception. In January 2016, the leading bureaucrats from the Department of Public Works (DPW); Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) and the Department of Public Health appeared before the Milwaukee Common Council Steering and Rules Committee, to prove Milwaukee water was safe to drink. But there was a problem. A contradiction.

While the three bureaucrats insisted that the water was safe, they acknowledged that the water is contaminated with lead. The contamination is caused by lead service lines connecting from homes to city water mains. The lead pipes are so disconcerting MWW issued a letter in Spanish and English advising thousands of homes with lead service laterals to take precaution when drinking water.

But it appears that’s all the city has done so far on the matter.

Advising residents to run their water for 3-5 minutes is akin to putting up a sign near a pond to warn people the ice maybe be thin, you skate at your own peril. Problem is, skating on ice is a matter of choice, water is a matter of vital necessity.

Indeed, lead is proven to be a major contributor in violent behavior.  A study suggests a direct link between early lead exposure and an increased risk of criminal behavior.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati used long-term data from a childhood lead study, and what they found showed “elevated prenatal and postnatal blood-lead concentrations associated with higher rates of criminal arrest in adulthood” according to the study.

The findings are published in the journal PLoS Medicine.  http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050101

The study monitored infants born to women living in older, lead-contaminated housing in Cincinnati between 1979 and 1984. Of the original 376 newborns recruited, 250 were identified for the study. Researchers found that individuals with increased “blood-lead levels before birth and during early childhood had higher rates of arrest than the rest of the study population after age 18.”

Lead in the water is a secondary source affecting Milwaukee low income families.

Clearly, reducing childhood lead exposure via water may be an important and achievable way to reduce violent crime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *