Did childhood lead exposure cause a wave of crime?

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead
When Rudy Giuliani ran for mayor of New York City in 1993, he campaigned on a platform of bringing down crime and making the city safe again. It was a comfortable position for a former federal prosecutor with a tough-guy image, but it was more ... motherjones.com
Posted by Sir Four at 11:17am Jan 19 '13
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Graph shows the prevalence of leaded gas, and the violent crime rate 23 years later (age 23 being when roughly criminality peaks):

This sort of relationship has been found again and again, not just in the US but in countries around the world. Lead exposure at a young age is known to reduce IQ and increase impulsivity; expose children to lead, and you increase their rate of criminality in young adulthood. This has been found empirically, quote: "Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes." Quote: "A second study found that high exposure to lead during childhood was linked to a permanent loss of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex--part of the brain associated with aggression control as well as what psychologists call 'executive functions': emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility."

Lead exposure and IQ drop:

The linked article mentions numerous alternate explanations for the drop in crime: drug use, incarceration rates, 'broken windows', legal abortion, demographic shifts, economic factors...some of these are more plausible than others, but none has the degree of evidence as does lead exposure. I highly recommend reading the whole thing! It's very compelling, and concludes with an argument for further action on lead abatement, to additionally reduce lead exposure levels.

added on 11:20am Jan 19 '13:
"(age 23 being when roughly criminality peaks)"

Oops, I mean roughly when criminality peaks.
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