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Get the Lead Out!

Wouldn’t it be ironic if, after spending billions of dollars on prisons, police, and the war on drugs, the real answer to reducing crime was as simple as getting rid of lead in our environment?

That’s the conclusion of new research that strongly indicates that the hidden villain behind violent crime, lowered intelligence, and even attention deficit disorder is the use of lead in fuels (and to a lesser extent, in paint).

What? You think we already stopped using lead? Not really. We still use it in aviation fuel, spewing lead into the atmosphere. And for no good reason.

But the real irony is why this research isn’t getting more attention. Could it be that the prison industry doesn’t want you to know that our prison-building frenzy wasn’t really necessary? Or that vastly expanding the number of police and creating paramilitary swat teams didn’t actually do all that much to reduce crime? Or that the war on drugs was a complete waste of money?

And just because we banned lead in automobile gasoline doesn’t mean it isn’t still around, saturating the soil in American cities where car traffic was the most dense during the time that all gasoline was leaded. And every time the wind kicks up some dust, we are breathing it again. We have the technology to remove this lead and potentially bring down crime rates significantly, but we do nothing.


We should be screaming about this. We are poisoning our children. And the cost of the clean-up is small compared to the cost of doing nothing, paid in lower IQs, increased crime, and health problems.



  1. ebdoug wrote:


    Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink
  2. Dan wrote:

    Right, EBDOUG- blame smokers, my Grandmother told me she didn’t buy that nonsense because she knew people who smoked all their lives and had no problems, but they lived a hundred years ago. We have put a large volume of harmful elements in our air (and cigarettes) since then, and industries that polute the air have a lot more influence then individuals while pointing fingers. If we got rid of lead then where would the TEA/Republican party of today find followers?

    Monday, January 21, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  3. Arthanyel wrote:

    Gun violence is also a form of lead poisoning 🙂

    Monday, January 21, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
  4. Dave, TN wrote:

    One rather large source of gasoline/lead until recently was NASCAR races. While they have wised up and switched to unlead a couple of years back, hundreds of the smaller events (some NASCAR and ASA sanctioned) still use primarily leaded fuels still. These are events that attract large number of families. Some of these tracks are no more than a fish bowl with air constantly being stirred by the cars.

    Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thanks Dave! I was worried that nobody was going to make a relevant comment on this post.

    NASCAR, eh? That might explain a few things. 🙂

    So how do we finish the job of banning leaded fuel?

    Monday, January 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  6. eyesoars wrote:

    IIRC, the biggest source of lead pollution now is coal power plants. There just aren’t enough airplanes using leaded fuel to make much of a difference (jet fuel isn’t leaded; only propeller planes use leaded fuel, and only some of them: many have autogas STCs and use unleaded).

    Aviation lead pollution also isn’t distributed like auto exhaust pollution (highly urban), being distributed much more widely.

    Some skepticism is warranted over these results, especially for the ADHD link — the levels of lead in the environment and in children have been going down steadily for some time, and all paint sold has been lead-free for quite a long time (in the U.S. since 1977). If these results were true, one would expect ADHD rates to be dropping, but I’ve not heard that they are — rather the opposite.

    Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink
  7. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I think with the jabs at lead and CO we are just taking superficial stabs at a much larger problem. Without any statistics, just actual observations there were/are just as many people unaffected by lead and CO then those possibly exposed. My wife grew up in Peru and as with many 3rd world countries they didn’t stop using lead in gasoline until the mid-late 90’s. I still remember my first visit in the early 90’s and choking on the thick pollution from the regular gas fumes emitted by every car. The whole city of Lima was coated in black soot. I was sneezing, coughing, my eyes were watering and there was virtually no flying insects. I realized this when we returned from the countryside after visiting where my wifes birthplace where there were lots of flies, but whne we got back to Lima there were none. The air was too dirty. Peru has it’s problems, but not like us. There are non-violent crimes like robbery and sure people get killed, but not like here. Kids have learning problems, but not like here. One of our biggest problems in the good ole USA is a lack of dedicated parents and community when it comes to kids.
    By the way, over the years Peru has cleaned up it’s environment significantly. On my last visit to Lima almost every car was powered by natural gas or propane. The city looked clean, the soot washed away, bugs in the air, and my allergic reactions were gone. The crime has remained fairly unchanged in that it’s still mostly robbery’s and not so many murders. The hispanic culture is family centered and they keep a fairly tight grip on the kids. If a kid has trouble they sit um down and teach them, like my wife and I do with our kids. We talk to them about everything from how to treat a lady, to saying no to drugs to doing whats right to the value of education.
    Just going out on a limb here, but it seems to me we Americans spend more time looking for excuses for our failures and shortcomings and not enough time fixing what we can.
    By the way eyesoars your point about ADHD is one that I’ve been saying for a long time that it one of the most over diagnosed conditions in America, along with erectile dysfunction.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink