Lead Dust Exposure Linked To Violence

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted April 26, 2012


According to new research, lead dust exposure as a child may be a contributing factor to violent behavior, raising societal concerns about low-levels of lead exposure and further highlighting the risk faced by children who suffer lead poisoning after high-levels of exposure. 

In a study recently published in the medical journal Environmental International, researchers from Tulane University looked at trends in aggravated assault and exposure to lead dust from leaded gasoline, noting a correlation with childhood exposure.

While leaded gasoline is no long sold publicly in the U.S., the study highlights the ramifications for children exposed to lead dust from other sources, such as lead paint which remains in many older rental homes in Baltimore, Maryland and throughout the country.

The scientists looked at lead levels released in six major cities from 1950 to 1985, including Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans and San Diego. They found that for every one percent increase in the amount of lead released, there was a 0.46% increase in aggravated assault 22 years later. The researchers did note that lead-based paint also contributed to those lead amounts.

Exposure to high amounts of lead dust has previously been linked nervous system injuries, brain damage, seizures, convulsions, growth or mental retardation, coma and even premature death for young children.

One of the more common causes of lead exposure in the United States is lead paint, which was banned in 1978 due to the risk of severe and permanent brain damage and developmental problems, particularly in children. However, a number of older homes still contain the toxic paint on the walls, and if it flakes or peals off, young children could ingest the paint chips or breathe dust that comes from the paint, resulting in lead poisoning.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider 10 milligrams of lead per deciliter of blood to be the level of concern for exposure to lead. The CDC estimates that approximately 250,000 children in the U.S. have blood lead levels that high or higher. However, this study highlights the hidden dangers associated with exposure to lead dust, which may have a more latent effect, which impacting societal behavior and welfare of children as they become adults.

The lead exposure lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent children who have been diagnosed with elevated lead levels due to lead paint or lead dust that has flaked off the walls in poorly maintained homes. To review a potential claim for your child or a family member, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

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