Is There a Link Between Pollution and Crime?

According to an op-ed pubished in The Baltimore Sun, later this year a new hypothesis is slated to emerge from a Dartmouth University researcher supposedly linking pollution with higher crime rates. Click here for the op-ed. Unfortunately for the Dartmouth researcher, this hypothesis is likely to be short-lived, if not stillborn.

The hypothesis is communities with high levels of heavy metal pollution (like lead and manganese) have higher crime rates (e.g., murder, assault, rape and robbery). Supposedly, environmental exposures to heavy metals affect brain function.

But consider that, according to EPA estimates, while ambient emissions of lead in the U.S. decreased 98% from 1984 to 1995 (from 219,471 tons to 4,986 tons, primarily by removing lead from gasoline), the U.S. violent crime rate increased 26 percent over the same period according to the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.

Another junk science hypothesis down the drain.

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