Monday, July 9, 2007

Does lead lead to crimes?

The topic of crime has been much debated in and around New Orleans, especially after Katrina. How do we stop it? How do we prevent it? Is it all because of drugs? Gangs? Eddie Jordan? Wrong, all wrong.

According to economist Rick Nevin, the problem is lead (atomic # 82). The Washington Post has a article about Nevin's research linking the crime reduction in NY City under Giuliani to reduced exposure to lead.

My first reaction to this article was, "no way". But after more thought, I think there might be more to this than meets the eye (sorry, lame transformer joke). Nevin's work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the journal Environmental Research. He could be on to something here.

From Gambit Weekly (6/05/2001),

"The issue is again drawing attention in the wake of a study conducted by Felicia Rabito, an epidemiologist at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The results of the study, released in late April, revealed that 25 percent of children tested in New Orleans public health clinics carry toxic levels of lead in their bloodstream, a rate roughly six times the national average."

Here is a map I created showing the locations of lead samples above LDEQ evaluation or management level & above EPA level of concern for residential soil. According to the EAP: "A soil lead hazard is bare soil on residential property or on the property of a child-occupied facility that contains total lead of at least 400 parts per million in a play area or at least 1,200 parts per million on bare soil in the rest of the yard." So this map shows all locations above 400ppm (or mg/Kg).

All the data used to generate this map can be found through the EPA here.

You can see that this map looks very similar to the murder map found here.

There might be something to this lead/murder link after all.Our environment definately impacts our behavior. Lead contamination can be quantified, in blood and in the environment, unlike parental quality (which is subjective). Time for NO to get out in front on this. There is no downside; at worst lead is removed from the environment and at best the murder rate drops too (well not immediately, but after 15-20 years).

Unfortunately, to expect anything resembling action from Nagin is a waste of time...

1 comment:

mrjazzbeau said...

I find this very interesting.I do believe that we should be able to get federal funds to remove the lead. Maybe the LRA (Lead Removal Auth) could handle the funds.