Blog Archives

Does Lead Poisoning Make You More Likely To Become A Criminal?

By Lecia Bushak, http://www.medicaldaily.com

 Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

In the U.S., crime has been reduced significantly in the past several decades. Economists and researchers have hypothesized that this decline in crime is somehow linked to the removal of high lead levels from common things like gasoline or paint, and thus claim that lead poisoning at an early age may be cause for criminal activity later on.

Before Rudy Giuliani became the mayor of New York City in the early 1990s, the Big Apple was known for its high crime rates. Since the 1960s, rape, murder, and robbery rates had ballooned significantly. Giuliani came along with a plan to decrease crime with the “broken windows” theory, and it worked; crime dropped significantly. But it wasn’t just in New York City. Amazingly enough, it was happening all across the States during the last decade of the 20th century.

Why did the homicide rate decrease by over 40 percent by the end of the 1990s? Economists and criminologists have struggled to find a clear cut answer, and perhaps there is none. Some believe it’s because of an increase in police officers; others point to the fact that the number of criminals who are behind bars has risen. However, a fraction of researchers believe that the decline of crime is linked to lead.

Research has shown that having high levels of lead in blood could lead to decreased cognitive function, as well as aggressive or violent characteristics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in a child’s blood is considered abnormal. During the 1970s, the average U.S. resident had significantly higher levels of lead in their blood than the average person today.

So some economists have hypothesized that as the amount of leaded gasoline and lead paint increased during the 1970s, so did crime rates. Likewise, when lead levels began to drop, so did crime. Read More

Metal firm owner sentenced for lead exposure failures

By Regional News Network, http://press.hse.gov.uk/regional-contacts/

The owner of a Nottinghamshire alloy firm has been sentenced for failing to protect workers from the risks of lead poisoning after three employees became seriously ill.

They included Brook Northey, 28, of Mansfield, who required specialist treatment at the West Midlands Poisons Unit after working at LDB Light Alloys Ltd, owned by Mansfield businessman Laurence Brown.

He had been working with his two colleagues at the Boughton-based company making lead sheeting from molten lead. His job was to scrape off the solid impurities, or dross, in a crucible containing the molten lead and pour the excess into containers.

Mr Northey was hospitalised for three weeks in May 2011 and continued to receive treatment for over a year. He was also off work for a year and can never work with lead again.

Prior to being diagnosed with lead poisoning he had been admitted to hospital with renal problems.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found conditions at Mr Brown’s company were so bad that a Prohibition Notice was served halting all work with immediate effect.

Nottingham Crown Court heard today (4 February) that extraction systems, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, hygiene and rest facilities were all unsatisfactory, and that no air monitoring or medical surveillance was provided.

HSE also established that lunch breaks were taken in an old, lead-contaminated caravan with no running water. Water was collected in contaminated plastic milk cartons from a contaminated hand washing area in the workshop. Clothes worn for work were not removed before eating and drinking and there was no toilet facility at the factory.

Staff had not been told about the effects of lead or how to recognize the symptoms of over-exposure. Read More

Manufacturers lose $1.1B lead paint suit

By Joel Rosenblatt and Jack Kaskey, BLOOMBERG NEWS

Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and ConAgra Grocery Products LLC were ordered by a judge to pay $1.1 billion to replace or contain lead paint in millions of homes after losing a public-nuisance lawsuit brought by 10 California cities and counties.

Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg in San Jose, California, yesterday tentatively ruled against the companies after a non-jury trial that lasted about five weeks. Two other defendants, Atlantic Richfield Co., a Los Angeles-based unit of BP Plc, and Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont Co., won dismissal of the claims against them.

The local governments that sued, including Los Angeles County and the cities of San Diego and San Francisco, broke the companies’ streak of victories in similar suits in seven other states. Los Angeles County will get $605 million for lead abatement in the ruling.

Kleinberg rejected the manufacturers’ arguments that paint was “not the whole problem,” and that alternate sources of lead contribute to poisoning.

“Consistent with their arguments throughout the trial the defendants rely on statistics and percentages,” Kleinberg wrote. “When translated into the lives of children that is not a persuasive position. The court is convinced there are thousands of California children in the jurisdictions whose lives can be improved, if not saved through a lead abatement plan.” Read More

Spring cleanup can increase lead exposure in home

By Terry Gibb, Michigan State University Extension

Spring cleaning is an annual ritual. Whether you’re cleaning, remodeling or renovating, you need to become knowledgeable about potential lead contamination and sources.

Many homes have one or more sources of lead contamination. Lead exposure can have health and environmental effects on humans and pets. Lead is a soft metal used in many products, including ceramics, printer’s ink, children’s toys, paint, solder, lead crystal, water pipes and gasoline. For many years, it was commonly used in these products. Lead can last for hundreds of years in the environment and never break down into a harmless substance.

In homes, the most common source of lead is from “paint dust” in older homes. While lead was banned in paints in 1978, 74 percent of homes built prior to 1980 may have high levels of lead paint. This is the most common source of exposure for children. They don’t eat peeling paint chips, instead they play in areas where deteriorating paint has produced paint dust. Most of this dust can be found near areas exposed to moisture, such as around doors, windows and exterior walls. If paint is intact (no chipping, peeling or chalking), then exposure is greatly reduced. Chalking that causes paint dust also comes from weathering or when surfaces rub or scrape together as in the case of door and window sills.

Do-it-yourself kits are available to test for lead. These kits will indicate the presence or absence of lead but will not indicate the amount of lead present.

Other sources of lead are contaminated soils and drinking water. While lead occurs naturally in soil, soils can become further contaminated through paint or leaded gasoline. Read More

 

Is Lead Exposure Behind Cities’ Schizophrenia Problem?

By Sydney Brownstone, http://blogs.villagevoice.com

In New York City, like in many other major metropolises, schizophrenia is a disease that can be more visible than most. In 1999, after a schizophrenic off his meds pushed a woman into the path of an oncoming N train, New York State even came up with a law to make the mentally ill seek compulsory treatment. Kendra’s Law, named after the woman who died on the tracks, sought to prevent violence by pushing schizophrenics with a potential for self-harm or violence into psychiatric care.

But for decades, researchers have been struggling with a bigger question about the nature of the relationship between schizophrenia and cities–and why, for example, growing up in a city makes you more vulnerable to developing schizophrenia as an adult.

A landmark study from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and published last week in Schizophrenia Bulletin may shed new light on that connection–for the first time, animal models show that lead, along with other environmental toxins, could be a major contribution to the link. Read More

 

EPA Losing a Bundle on RRP Program

By Lauren Hunter, http://www.remodeling.hw.net

According to a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the EPA is losing money on its lead-based paint program. Based on the agency’s estimates since the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule went into effect in 2010, the total loss will amount to $16.4 million by 2014. Fiscal year 2010 actually turned a profit of $8.9 million, but costs are exceeding fee collections by $25.3 million for 2011 through 2014.

According to the report, three issues are contributing to the EPA’s unrecovered costs. The agency has not conducted recommended biennial cost reviews to ensure that fees are in line with costs, and the fee structure also does not take into account all the indirect costs needed to recover the cost of administering the lead-based paint program. More importantly, the agency notes that RRP firm participation is lower than projected. Read More

 

Op-Ed: The struggle against lead poisoning, young children most at risk

By R. C. Camphausen, http://www.digitaljournal.com

While lead in paint has been banned in Europe and the US for years, certain companies still produce lead paint and sell it abroad. There, yet also at home, young children still suffer the consequences: lower IQ, slowed body growth, failure at school.
Lead is a metal found in soil, water, air and dust — as well as in products used in or around our homes; for example in paint and toys. Lead is dangerous for both children and adults, yet the very young, up to age six, are most likely to contract lead poisoning as they breathe in or swallow dust from old lead paint particles that collect on floors and windowsills, hands and toys.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/348382#ixzz2Wbw9zgZs

Budget cuts put US kids at elevated risk of lead poisoning

By Brett Wilkins, http://digitaljournal.com

At a time when hundreds of thousands of US children are suffering from lead poisoning, budget cuts mean there are fewer resources available to deal with the problem.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that more than 500,000 US children are believed to have lead poisoning. One out of every 38 children are believed to suffer from the debilitating and potentially deadly ailment, and the poor are disproportionately affected.
Children often get lead poisoning from living in old homes in which lead paint was used. Contaminated soil and drinking water and industrial lead dust also sicken children, who breathe or swallow lead particles. The heavy metal can damage children’s brains, kidneys, and other organs. Elevated levels of lead in the blood can lead to reduced intelligence, hearing impairment and behavioral and other problems.

Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/349098#ixzz2SXRnA8YP