Does lead cause crime?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by jnpy!$4g3cwk, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #1
    Conservative posters often dismiss complaints about various environmental health factors with the observation that, for example, the person who drank several liters of soda per day "knew" that it could cause obesity and diabetes, or, the person who smoked two packs a day "knew" that it could cause lung cancer.

    So, what about environmental factors that were unknown at the time? Is the person who experienced the environmental influence still responsible for their own behavior?

    Here is a general easy-to-read review:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241041/

    It has been known for some time that lead exposure and crime are highly correlated. For example:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1349514/pdf/amjph00231-0099.pdf

    Most of the graphs are buried inside refereed journal articles, but, sometimes they occasionally make it out:

    [​IMG]

    But, obviously, correlation is not causality. Anyone who has taken a statistics class knows that if you correlate a bunch of time series, some fraction of them will show up as highly correlated even though they are completely independent.

    So, that makes it more interesting when someone undertakes to do a long-term (look at the graph -- you need 23 years from peak to peak) prospective study. From the abstract:


    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0050101
     
  2. macrumors 68020

    niuniu

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    Every study you look up will show a correlation between lead exposure and crime. Seems that exposure affects boys more than girls. Lowers IQ, predisposes them more to crime perhaps.

    I find it worrying that this company Innospec is still manufacturing tetraethyl lead and selling it to 3rd world countries by bribing their officials. They are one of the dodgiest companies in the country.

    They claim to be an American company, yet they're based in the UK. Perhaps one is a parent company. The UK plant manufactures the poison. It's shocking that we haven't closed it down.
     
  3. macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    This has been a question in Baltimore for some time now. At least two decades. The sharp rise in crime in the city was once attributed to the high levels of lead exposed youth reaching a mature age and, having found no treatment or aid, succumbing to the typical poverty and disenfranchisement that accompanies an urban center.

    But, with the high levels of lead poisoning, these individuals were downright uncontrollable.

    http://www2.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=9738
     
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  5. Ugg
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    Ugg

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    It seems as though the connection is fairly clear.

    Lead and mercury (mad as a hatter came from the haberdashers who became crazed after working with mercury) are clearly, IMO, serious problems. I think we will continue to find more in the decade ahead as more people become ill from exposure to a multitude of pesticides, household products, etc.
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    Doesn't really account for the low crime rural areas with lead piping.

    What might make more sense though is the fact that the lower income parts of town get the pipes swapped out slower or later on and the rich people just had pipes put in for their new suburban house.
     
  7. Ugg
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    Ugg

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    #7
    Where do you get your info about rural areas and lead pipes?
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    Here is a paper showing the measurable effect of lead right down to less than 5 uG/dL level, in which lots of things are controlled for including gender, race/ethnicity, poverty, and tobacco smoke pre/postnatal. It is pretty remarkable, but, the effect of low-level lead exposure is quite strong. Read this and tell us what you think:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1308622/pdf/pubhealthrep00019-0027.pdf
     
  9. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #9
    I would say that there are groups of people who would utterly fail this exam completely that have learned to live peacefully without crime.

    ----------

    Lead piping was used in the past, it costs lots of money to change said lead piping out, thus lower income areas are typically the slowest to change it, especially in an urban setting because you have to close roads down. Areas most likely to not have lead piping would be newer developed areas and poor people aren't exactly gobbling up houses.

    Rural areas aren't going to have the money to even perform these procedures.
     
  10. Ugg
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    Ugg

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    #10
    Stats please.
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #11
    Its pretty much common sense. Poor areas have poorer living conditions.
     
  12. macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Does lead cause crime?

    Common sense tells me to be leery of people who refuse to back their arguments up with evidence.
     
  13. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    Its not exactly rocket science. Older homes and buildings used lead piping/lead paint. The only people who are going to be living in areas so run down that they couldn't afford to change those things out are poor people. It just so happens that poor people are also more likely to commit crimes in the US.
     
  14. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    Actually, it kind of is rocket science. It took a lot of work for people to measure the lead in a broad spectrum of real people, watch them over time, analyze the data using modern statistical methods, and figure out that lead "causes" crime in white, well-to-do, well-educated families, too.

    Someone posted this earlier:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/15/lead-poisoning-children-middle-class_n_2880619.html

    You have frequently mentioned lead piping (it is mainly lead solder used at the joints, and, lead in fixtures, and, these are certainly a problem) but, historically it was mainly lead paint and leaded gas that were the major sources. Leaded gas is mostly gone, but, the leaded paint problem lives on, as the articles show.

    (48 uG/dL for one of the children cited -- ouch!)
     
  15. macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #15
    As the recent article @ Scientific American, Lead Exposure on the Rise Despite Decline in Poisoning Cases, points out, coal burning power plants are also a problem.

     
  16. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #16
    Find me a middle class family who is living in a house with lead pipes or lead paint. Not going to happen.

    City pipes and older housing still currently have lead piping. Even in Toronto which is more progressive than most of the US there is lead piping. In fact the city has just started removing and replacing these pipes on a major intersection I travel daily.

    There's no argument that lead poisoning might cause deficiencies in testing, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are committing crimes due to lead.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

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    #17
    I've gone back and read through your posts to try to understand better what exactly your point is, and I come away confused.

    So far it seems to be that rural homes and poorer inner city buildings are more prone to have lead pollution due to older plumbing and lead-based paint. Yet you for some reason point out that there are "groups of people ... that have learned to live peacefully without crime."

    First I'd love to hear who these people are who "live peacefully without crime."

    I don't believe they exist in the United States

    And secondly, what is your point to all this ...?
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #18
    You clipped my quote, I said there were groups of people who would fail the exams and still live peacefully. Minor deficiencies on an exam due to lead poisoning doesn't exactly mean they are going to go shoot someone.

    My main point is that you guys are looking for causation in the wrong place. Poor people will have a higher frequency of lead poisoning because they live in ******** places.
     
  19. macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Ah. I didn't understand the connection.

    I see what you're saying now.

    On the other hand, there are people who smoke cigarettes all their adult lives yet still don't develop lung cancer or heart disease. Would you likewise cite those people as proof that there is no link to cigarettes and those diseases?

    Please note: I have never said that I believe lead causes crime. I had heard the connection made before this thread and it's an interesting correlation, but it's a long way from proof of causation.

    But it is an interesting point of discussion.
     
  20. Ugg
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    Ugg

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    There are plenty out there, even in Toronto. Lead paint is most prevalent in houses from the 40s and 50s. But you seem to think that middle class people only live in new homes. What's the reasoning for that? There are a lot of middle class neighborhoods where I live that we're built during that time. Sure, poorer people may not have the means to reprint as often or live in homes owned by slumlords but it seems to me tha t all those angry young mass murderers since Columbine have been middle class.care to explain that?
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    I'm confused. Apparently I'm having trouble reading Canadian? In the article cited in the reference that you re-quoted several families are shown to be exactly that: white, middle-class families living in dwellings with deteriorating lead paint. This is seen to be not uncommon. And middle class families are not immune to the effects. "Not going to happen." ?!?!

    I assert that several of the academic articles cited in this thread show that "lead causes crime" in exactly the same sense that "smoking causes lung cancer". The correlation was actually observed much longer ago. The understanding of the mechanisms through which lead enters the body, is circulated, and affects the operation of the nervous system (neurology), took much longer. Prospective (longitudinal) studies have now predicted very accurately the level of criminality in a population when other variables are controlled for.

    Just as not every criminal has had lead exposure, not every person with lung cancer got it from cigarettes. Not every person with lead exposure becomes a criminal, just as not every smoker gets lung cancer. But, every person who smokes enough does develop certain lung changes, just as every person with significant lead exposure develops neurological deficits.

    When faced with this, we generally (informally) say that "smoking causes lung cancer". (All the caveats are understood.) In exactly the same way, we can say that "lead causes crime".
     
  22. macrumors 65816

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    I could settle for "lead may increase the risk of developing violence" in a similar way that "smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer."

    Though I will look for more corroborative studies before I say it with the same degree of certainty.
     
  23. macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #23
    The article was actually about a middle class family who remodeled their house and were too dumb to get their kids out of the house while it was happening and properly ventilate the house. :rolleyes:

    I guess we can check one less middle class family off the lead based paint list.

    Any houses that were painted during the time when lead based paint was used are going to be deteriorating, middle class people aren't going to live in a decrepit old house with a crappy paint job.


    As for the little quotes about them having anger fits and violence after breathing in lead. :rolleyes:

    Sounds to me more like a witch hunt and pointing fingers. "Hey guys, its not our fault we are committing crimes, look here, lead based paint."
     
  24. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #24
    I'm having trouble understanding what point you are trying to make.
     
  25. macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Lead based paint wasn't banned for household use until 1978. Do you really think that all pre-1978 houses are deteriorating and decrepit?

    There many neighborhoods where the houses built in the 1920's through 1978 (the year lead based paint for homes was banned) that are very desirable, are lived in by middle to upper class families, and quite possibly still have lead paint around the home or lead in the soil due to said paint. Consider the Washington Park area in Denver - of the 37 homes listed for sale, sales prices average $716k (range from $310k to $1.6 million, std dev $288k) and years built average 1940 (ranges from 1890 to 2012, std dev 31 years.)

    Here's an example - a 1922 house listed for $1,295,000.
    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1010-S-Franklin-St-Denver-CO-80209/13354441_zpid/
    That's not a decrepit house that only poor people will live in.

    (And just for the heck of it, here's a 1939 house in Dallas listed for $2,595,000.
    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/5272-Ravine-Dr-Dallas-TX-75220/26759681_zpid/ )
     

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