Children who are exposed to lead may have an increased risk of committing violent crimes later in life, said a new study.
The study published in the Journal Environmental health
analyzed whether lead exposure has an association with antisocial behaviors including delinquency and crime. The study was conducted at Macquarie University, Australia as the country is the largest producer of lead in the world.
‘Childhood lead exposure is associated with subsequent aggressive criminal behaviors.
The atmospheric concentration of lead was examined in six suburbs namely Earlwood, Lane Cove, Rozelle, Rydalmere, Boolaroo and Port Kembla. They also looked at the crime rates in these suburbs.
They found lead in the air concentrations accounted for 29.8 percent of the variance in assault rates 21 years later in the six suburbs.
"When comparing results between suburbs in New South Wales we found that for every additional microgram of lead in the air, assault rates 21 years later rose by 163 assaults per 100,000 persons," said Professor Mark Taylor, one of the study's authors.
The researchers found that lead exposure increases impulsivity while crimes of aggression are typically related to impulsive actions.
"The strong positive relationship between childhood lead exposure and subsequent rates of aggressive crime has important implications for public health globally. Measures need to be taken to ameliorate exposure to lead and other environmental contaminant with know neurodevelopmental consequences," concluded the researchers.
Reference: Mark Patrick Taylor, Miriam K. Forbes, Brian Opeskin, Nick Parr and Bruce P. Lanphear. The relationship between atmospheric lead emissions and aggressive crime: an ecological study, Environmental Health
2016, DOI: 10.1186/s12940-016-0122-3.