The Heavy Burden Of Lead Poisoning

2011-06-17 | |
Last updated: 2011-06-17

Why Does Lead Poisoning Result In These Costs?

To understand just how damaging lead poisoning is, it is important to know some of the effects of lead exposure to the body. Though lead affects many parts of the body, the general effects of lead poisoning on the brain are most important in this respect. While these effects are experienced both by children and adults, the effects on the developing mind of children are the most severe.

Children who experience lead poisoning develop both learning disabilities and behavioral problems. They also have shorter attention spans and lower IQ scores than children not exposed to lead. Worst of all, however, these children become antisocial in their behavior and suffer from increased aggressiveness. The implications of this end up being quite serious.

In particular, a study from the University of Cincinnati found that the increase in antisocial behavior is so high that those children exposed had significantly higher risks of being arrested for violent crime than children not exposed to these levels of lead poisoning. As an example, children whose blood was found to have 50% higher levels of lead than the federal safe limit had a 48% higher chance of being arrested for violent crime. This does not even take into account the risks of other criminal behaviors.

What is worse is that as levels of lead in the blood increased further, the risk of arrest for violent crimes increased accordingly.

If we then consider the already higher risks of criminal involvement in low-income areas, the result is that children from low-income families pay significantly for lead poisoning. They pay with their health and their opportunities in life. This is despite the problem of lead poisoning being something created by the whole of society.

Conclusion

People have recognized the effects of lead poisoning on the human body since ancient times. Yet, most of modern society still suffers in some manner from the effects of this toxic metal. The health costs for dealing with this persistent toxic material have become massive, but the majority of those directly affected are those least able to pay the costs. The result is that financially disadvantaged children pay with their physical and mental health. Because these mental health issues result in higher rates of violent crime, we all end up paying some price for lead poisoning.

Watch for a subsequent article that will discuss in more detail how lead poisoning affects the body and how to prevent being exposed to lead.

Related Links

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/wine/leadpoisoning.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21457535
http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2007_0803.htm#lead
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050115
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050101
http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2011/05/02/hlthaff.2010.1239.abstract
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2006-releases/press11072006.html

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Category: General Health, Health Risks

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