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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health Researcher Examines Blood Lead Levels as Predictor of Violent Crimes

In a recent study published in PLOS One, Dr. Erik J. Nelson at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington and collaborator Dr. Brian B. Boutwell of St. Louis University, examined if criminal and antisocial behavior can be linked to the distribution of lead within a region.

Their study, “Aggregate-level Lead Exposure, Gun Violence, Homicide, and Rape” is one of the first studies to directly explore blood lead levels as an indicator of firearm crimes, as well as homicide and rape.

Study results indicate that, even after adjusting for important sociological variables, blood lead levels elevated by a mere 1 percentage point in children were linked to the perpetration of the violent crimes reviewed, with the exception of rape, which underscores the association between lead and criminality. The team recommends future research investigates the interaction of sociological and biological risk factors.

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