• Due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software, some users were "banned" when they tried to change their passwords at the end of February. This does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you were affected by this, please us viua the Contact us link in the footer.

Lead pollution and Crime in Ireland


seabhcan

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
14,327
Mother Jones has a very interesting series of articles at the moment on how lead air pollution - mainly from leaded petrol - was a major cause of high crime rates seen during the late 20th century. It sounds extraordinary, but lead damages the brain development of children and has been shown to make them grow into more violent and impulsive adults, and more prone to crime. This particularly effects disadvantaged kids who grow up in the inner cities - where there was substantially higher levels of lead pollution in the air.

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead | Mother Jones

The article above is definitely worth a read. Its main suggestion is that crime increase about 20 after high lead air pollution is seen - because it takes 20 years for the effected kids to grow up and commit crimes - drops around 20 years after lead pollution is reduced.

Similar numbers are repeated in every country that has been studied: http://pic.plover.com/Nevin/Nevin2007.pdf

Ireland didn't ban leaded petrol until 2000, a number of years after the US. I looked up the Irish EPA' lead pollution records which are available online back to 1997. In that year the concentration of lead in the air of Dublin was up to 400 ng/m^3. By 2002, (after the ban) it had dropped to 20 ng/m^2. By 2012 this had dropped to around 3 ng/m^3 - which is more than 100 times less than in 1997.

With a 20 year lag, we can expect to see crime rates begin to fall over the next few years. If the US example is repeated here, violent crime may fall by up to 80% by the year 2020.
 


EvotingMachine0197

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Messages
8,629
Interesting, but it does appear to be only a correlation without any further evidence of lead contributing to crime levels. So I'd be very wary of it for now..
 

seabhcan

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
14,327
Interesting, but it does appear to be only a correlation without any further evidence of lead contributing to crime levels. So I'd be very wary of it for now..
Did you not read the second page of the article?

A second study found that high exposure to lead during childhood was linked to a permanent loss of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex—a part of the brain associated with aggression control as well as what psychologists call "executive functions": emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility. One way to understand this, says Kim Cecil, another member of the Cincinnati team, is that lead affects precisely the areas of the brain "that make us most human."
 
B

birthday

Anyone know where I'd find crime stats for Ireland for the last 20 years?
This is Ireland.

Therefore I predict

1) Stats will not be publicly available

2) If your contention is correct, our lawyer class will be thinking already whether somene can be sued.
 

statsman

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
56,218

Shpake

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 17, 2012
Messages
5,350
You' d need a controll group/population that had no lead in the air to compare I'd imagine. Also times are changing so fast that twenty years ago is almost a different planet. Other factors at work too: Availability of guns and Where did I hear, from Freakonomics or such like that non-availabilty of abortion and juvenile crime were positively corellated (makes sense: large nrs of young males growing up in one-parent families without a father figure). Certlainly looks plausibel on the micro level so I won't say you are wrong on the effects of lead pollution at the macro. Just unscrambling the omellette twenty years back to quantify the effects of so much of an increase in lead is not an easy task
 

Tea Party Patriot

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
11,557
Drugs, drugs, oh, and did I mention drugs, were the cause of increase crime levels.
 

EvotingMachine0197

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Messages
8,629
You' d need a controll group/population that had no lead in the air to compare I'd imagine. Also times are changing so fast that twenty years ago is almost a different planet. Other factors at work too: Availability of guns and Where did I hear, from Freakonomics or such like that non-availabilty of abortion and juvenile crime were positively corellated (makes sense: large nrs of young males growing up in one-parent families without a father figure). Certlainly looks plausibel on the micro level so I won't say you are wrong on the effects of lead pollution at the macro. Just unscrambling the omellette twenty years back to quantify the effects of so much of an increase in lead is not an easy task
I think the variable peak lead dates from country to country does provide an element of control for isolating other factors. But you're right, it's tricky stuff.

This is really looking like a case of plumbium dumbium.
 

Shpake

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 17, 2012
Messages
5,350
Returning to Ireland after many years away, one of the frustrating things was when you heard a murder/crime had taken place and you take up a paper to read about it....
Well to put it gently, the reporter seemed to spend paragraphs talking around the subject deliberately not telling you who why where what etc. All to do with media law, as I found out... but the effect is that you were left puzzled and knowing less about it than before. You're average bloke had it all summed up: Was it drugs, gangland, family, political. Of course by the time it got to court six, eight months later it had been long forgotten and people were puzzling over the one that happened yesterday. But it was a good way of summing it up if not scientifically precise.
 

Analyzer

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
46,189
I would suggest an analysis with respect to the availability of hard drugs and crime.
 

chef35

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2012
Messages
607
I'm not 100% on this but I recall a council engineer giving out a few years back about the old lead water-pipes still in place in some towns, so there may still be low level exposure out their from other common sources. Anyhow, if it is in your system, it pretty much stays for life and you will more than likely pass it to the next generation through maternal exposure, so it keeps on giving, so to speak.
 

Toland

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 26, 2008
Messages
64,414
Website
www.aggressive-secularist.com
Interesting, but it does appear to be only a correlation without any further evidence of lead contributing to crime levels. So I'd be very wary of it for now..
I just heard a short piece on BBC World Service on the issue. Apparently crime rates have dropped in country after country 20 years after lead was banned in petrol.

I'm not a statistician, but I believe that a time lag between two associated phenomena can be taken to indicate a direct or indirect causal effect.

It'll be interesting to follow how this one develops.

Could it be that the 1960's crime wave in the developed world is simply down to massive poisoning?
 

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top