No, not the kind of lead poisoning that comes from getting shot. A Milwaukee report suggests a different kind of linkage.
More than half of the people who were perpetrators or victims of gun violence in Milwaukee in recent years had elevated blood lead levels as children, according to a study released Friday by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The study of nearly 90,000 residents, conducted at the University’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, suggests a link between early childhood lead exposure and gun violence in later years.
. . .
Lindsay R. Emer, the study’s lead author … said that while the study was not able to definitively prove cause and effect, the link is striking:
According to their findings, 56% of the shooters and 51% of the victims were found to have blood lead levels equal to or greater than the recommended limit of lead exposure of 5 micrograms per deciliter.
. . .
The study follows a consistent vein of prior research connecting lead exposure and violence:
Researchers at Harvard University and the University of California Berkeley published a study in 2016 that concluded that cities that used lead water pipes had homicide rates that were 24% higher than cities that did not.
Two researchers published a paper in 2017 for the National Bureau of Economic Research that studied the link between lead exposure and juvenile delinquency and found that as blood lead levels increased, so did the probability of suspension from school.
. . .
Bruce Lanphear, professor of health sciences and epidemiology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, described lead exposure in children as insidious.
“If it’s not overt poison, one of the challenges is you don’t really see acute symptoms,” he said. “You do see symptoms more like acting-out type behaviors: ADHD type behaviors, problems with schoolwork, risk-taking behaviors, impulsive behaviors in kids, delinquency in kids.”
Those behavioral challenges, he noted, don’t just disappear once someone turns 18.
“Conduct disorder in children matures into delinquent and sometimes even criminal behavior,” he said.
There’s more at the link.
I’d be interested to see this study correlated with others concerning ethnic groups, education levels, socioeconomic “class”, location (e.g. whether or not living in a specific suburb or area is likely to lead to a greater level of delinquency), etc. If it can be shown that lead poisoning is a definitive, across-the-board factor in youth crime, particularly involving firearms, it may be a valuable step forward in finding new ways to combat that scourge. Heaven knows, restrictions on firearms have done nothing to stop it!