Lead poisoning linked to adult crime

Donald Saiontz

By Donald Saiontz
Posted May 31, 2008


New research suggests that childhood exposure to lead paint can cause irreversible brain damage and a propensity to commit crimes in adulthood. Lead poisoning is often caused by young children eating flaking paint chips in poorly maintained rental properties in urban areas with older homes. Researchers indicate that the relationship between the lead exposure and crime is so strong, that it may be part of the reason that higher levels of crime are found in inner-city areas.

A study was recently published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine which followed the results of children exposed to lead over the past 25 years. Researchers at University of Cincinnati in Ohio collected data from pregnant mothers and children living in homes containing lead paint between 1979 and 1984. Two decades later, researchers located 250 of the children, who were between 19 and 24 years old, and found that 55% of those exposed to lead in the womb and throughout early childhood had been arrested in adulthood.

In a separate study in the same journal, researchers found that those with high lead levels as a result of exposure could suffer permanent brain damage. MRI scans found that over 1% of brain matter could be missing, and most often it is the frontal grey matter, responsible for mood and decision regulation.

Lead paint is the biggest source of lead poisoning or elevated lead blood levels for children. Although the paint was banned in 1978, due to its prior widespread use, it is often still present in homes, and could be flaking off of the walls in poorly maintained homes.


The lead poisoning lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent individuals diagnosed with elevated lead levels as a result of exposure to flaking paint chips in rental homes where they lived as children. If you, a friend or family member have been diagnosed with lead poisoning, request a free consultation.

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