Rochester Investigates Link Between Lead and Crime

If you read yesterday’s review of Six Modern Plagues in Grist, you know that environmental problems can be linked to health issues. But can they be linked to crime? That’s what officials in Rochester, N.Y., are trying to determine by investigating the relationship between violent behavior and lead poisoning, which can cause neurological damage and problems with attention span and intellectual development. Previous studies have linked lead poisoning to delinquency, aggression, and elevated school dropout rates. Rochester is looking at its homicide statistics to see if lead poisoning can be isolated as a contributing factor to the high violence rates in the area. The city recently received $5.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to combat lead poisoning, the highest amount awarded to any locality in the nation.