Yet Another Topsoil Study Finds Lead-Crime Link

Brian Guinn of the University of Louisville decided to do his doctoral dissertation on the lead-crime hypothesis. Since lead was fully removed from gasoline more than two decades ago, the main source of lead poisoning today comes from residual lead dust trapped in topsoil. So first he mapped topsoil lead levels in Louisville:

Then he measured violent crime in each area and found a strong relationship with lead levels. As you’d expect, the relationship weakened once he controlled for income, education, race, etc., but the relationship was still there:

After controlling for pertinent census-tract-level variables (median household income, percent female head of household, percent of households living in poverty, percent of households with dependents under 18-years of age, percent of households receiving food stamps, percent of the population that is black, percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree, and percent of the male population 15-24 years of age), every 100-unit increase in meantopsoil lead content was associated with a 1.05 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.08) increased risk for violent crime events.

This is a smallish study with modest results, but it’s yet another brick in the lead-crime hypothesis. It’s not quite as sexy as lead in elementary school drinking water, but topsoil contamination is probably the biggest source of infant lead poisoning in the country. We really need to clean up our topsoil, and the sooner the better.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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