[CORRECTION! Yesterday’s link to the men who herd cats was broken.  So sorry!]

I concluded Tuesday’s post with a link, Get The Lead Out, that I assume none of you clicked.  (It was a long post, and you guys are busy!  Or perhaps, as Ronald Reagan explained when asked why he hadn’t read his briefing book for that day’s important Summit meeting: “Well, Jim, ‘The Sound of Music’ was on last night.”)

So I’m clicking it for you.  In very small part:

. . . During the ’70s and ’80s, the introduction of the catalytic converter, combined with increasingly stringent Environmental Protection Agency rules, steadily reduced the amount of leaded gasoline used in America, but Reyes discovered that this reduction wasn’t uniform. In fact, use of leaded gasoline varied widely among states, and this gave Reyes the opening she needed. If childhood lead exposure really did produce criminal behavior in adults, you’d expect that in states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime would decline slowly too. Conversely, in states where it declined quickly, crime would decline quickly. And that’s exactly what she found.

Meanwhile, Nevin had kept busy as well, and in 2007 he published a new paper looking at crime trends around the world (PDF). This way, he could make sure the close match he’d found between the lead curve and the crime curve wasn’t just a coincidence. Sure, maybe the real culprit in the United States was something else happening at the exact same time, but what are the odds of that same something happening at several different times in several different countries?

Nevin collected lead data and crime data for Australia and found a close match. Ditto for Canada. And Great Britain and Finland and France and Italy and New Zealand and West Germany. Every time, the two curves fit each other astonishingly well. When I spoke to Nevin about this, I asked him if he had ever found a country that didn’t fit the theory. “No,” he replied. “Not one.” . . .

The whole article is fascinating.  And, as argued Tuesday, we should de-lead America’s inner-city homes and apartments, because lead paint, too, has a terrible effect on our kids and the adults they grow up to be.  We’ve gotten the lead out of gasoline.  Now let’s get it out of housing.  The return on investment, as reported here, would be phenomenal.



Comments are closed.