Lead is a common element found in old paints, soil, water and the atmosphere. At high doses it is lethal but also causes minor symptoms like headaches.
Small children are obviously impacted more and lead has been linked to irreversible damage to organs, kidneys in particular, and the nervous system including the brain. Now lead exposure is implicated in 'learning disabilities', behavioral problems, lowered intelligence, stunted growth, and hearing impairment.
Data from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that 6% of all children ages one to two years and 11% of African-American (non-Hispanic) children ages one to five years have blood lead levels in the toxic range in the area a lead poisoning, according to Summer Miller of Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, writing in the International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry
Miller suggests that exposure to harmful quantities of lead may also lead to juvenile delinquency. "Very small amounts of lead are associated with toxicity," she says. "There have been discrepancies amongst researchers in determining the levels indicating lead poisoning. Thus, it has been reported that levels as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter show enough lead exposure to diagnose lead poisoning."
She adds that public education regarding the ongoing problem of lead exposure is now needed to save young people from the potentially devastating effects of this toxic metal. "Lead poisoning has a progressive effect over time and its symptoms are those experienced by most people, such as headaches and abdominal pain," says Miller. "Because these symptoms are so common, this allows detection to go unnoticed, hence the need for education regarding sources of lead exposure. Published research shows that lead exposure and criminality is linked to evidence of poorer intelligence, low communication skills, and behavioral problems, such as vandalism and bullying," Miller adds.
Some studies found delinquent juveniles have raised concentration of lead in their bones compared to that in other juveniles.