Lion of the Blogosphere

Protect your children from lead

A commenter suggested that lower crime is caused by less environmental lead.

The contention of the article is that lead damages children’s developing brains, causing lower IQ and more impulsive behavior. And that lead is still a problem because there is still a lot of lead paint out there, and lead emitted by cars using leaded gasoline still lingers in the soil.

If you believe that even relatively low levels of lead are very bad for children, then there are some simple steps you can take to protect your own children.

(1) Don’t live in a house that was built before 1978, because that’s the year that lead paint was banned, and you can never be certain about how much lead might be hiding in older houses.

(2) Don’t live in neighborhoods that had a high amount of automobile traffic before the 1980s, because there will be higher levels of lead in the soil in such neighborhoods.

Thus you should do the opposite of the bobo dream of living in an charming old townhouse in a gentrified “walkable” neighborhood (because ironically, walkable neighborhoods have a higher density of automobile traffic). A house in a post-1978 suburban subdivision is where you want to raise your children. Or a post-1978 house in the country.

* * *

The problem with the lead-causes-crime theory is that there are possibly many confounding factors involved. Lead exposure is correlated with poverty because poor people (until the recent trend of bobos gentrifying those neighborhoods) live in old buildings in dense neighborhoods. And environmental activism which caused reduction in lead also correlated with other liberal politics that results in young children not being well disciplined in schools, leading to them becoming criminals when they grow older.

* * *

Steve Sailer write about this a year ago, and even mentioned the issue of bobos who gentrify old neighborhoods.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 6, 2013 at EDT am

Posted in Biology, Bobos, Crime

49 Responses

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  1. Sure lead is a danger, but the threat to most kids is greatly exaggerated. Blood lead levels in children have fallen tremendously since lead was removed from gas and paint sold. Nonetheless, advocates continue to declare it an emergency, periodically lowering the blood lead levels considered safe.

    steve@steve.com

    December 6, 2013 at EDT am

    • Last year the CDC made the lead emergency permanent by pegging the blood-lead level of concern to the level of the highest 2.5% of children tested. Thus no matter how small the actual concern blood-lead level, there will now always be 2.5% of kids above it. Children who have 5 microg/dL are now considered to have much higher levels than most kids. This level is about 1/3 of the *average* level for everyone in the USA in the 70s.

      steve@steve.com

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  2. I now live in a building that was built in the early 1980s. Many older residentials earlier than that, in NYC have not been fully renovated and I could understand as to why they might pose a health hazard. They usually have a funky smell which seems to give me respiratory problems. My experience comes from living in an old walkup in Hells Kitchen.

    Is it a reason as to why NYC public school students have such poor test scores and are almost undisciplined because most of them are housed in old schools laden with lead?

    JS

    December 6, 2013 at EDT am

  3. Buying new houses is reasonable in avoided legacy health issues, but there is one more consideration: make sure you’re not buying a house in a community built on a landfill.

    map

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • “make sure you’re not buying a house in a community built on a landfill”

      Or a house next to one in the planning stages. Is your community treating waste before burying it, or just burying it? Guess where the “removed” lead based paint was moved to in municipalities that didn’t expend enough time, money, and effort to build a state of the art landfill that can handle most past industrial poisons?

      Don't eat paint chips

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  4. Discipline? Just drug the little f*ckers I say. Regards, Association of Lazy Parents and Teachers of America.

    Curle

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  5. Encapsulating lead is a common practice. It’s also affordable. Also, if the advocates really cared about lead exposure, they would call for the ban of AA batteries. Hmmm, I wonder why we don’t see this scare? Call a city engineering department in a large midwestern city and ask why they don’t require lead paint “removal”. Except in the case of large scale remodeling. It has a lot to do with costs vs benefits.

    Bobos don’t want to spend the money disposing of it and it costs city waste departments a lot of money to deal with. It costs a lot because you can’t really dispose of it. All you can do is move it or convert it. Really, once it’s there, it’s there for a long time. So the most practical idea is to cover it up. If you don’t ingest it, it can’t hurt you. If you live in an old US or Canadian city, you’re exposed to lead. Most Midwestern cities have programs that teach home owners and contractors how to encapsulate lead based paint.

    As for the kids… Don’t let your kids chew on flaking paint. Really, it’s that simple. That’s the scary part about lead-based-paint-exposure studies and kids. It was found that they act like kids, they unknowingly pick up paint chips and chew on them. That’s the heart of the “lead based paint affects children” scare. For this reason advocates tend to spin the lead based paint part, which they can’t actually solve in any reasonable way, rather than the personal control part.

    Don't eat paint chips

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • That’s what I was going to say. You have to eat the paint. I remember the PSAs from the 70s when you’d see little ghetto kids in diapers sitting in some crappy apartment with paint peels all over the floor and the somber narration telling you about how dangerous it was. Even as a kid I would think, “Why the hell are these idiot kids eating paint?” Followed immediately by, “Why the hell isn’t their mother cleaning it up? No way in hell my mother would let a bunch of paint chips be on the floor for more than two minutes before she cleaned it up.”

      As my dear, departed racist Aunt used to say back when you’d see news footage about “the life of poverty” all the time: “How come the sinks are always falling off the wall? I lived in the same house for thirty years and the sink never fell off the wall.”

      Lead problems = lifestyle problems.

      peterike

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

      • That tip took Nevin in a different direction. The biggest source of lead in the postwar era, it turns out, wasn’t paint. It was leaded gasoline. And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early ’40s through the early ’70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

        Thats from the article. Lion just thinks he’s being clever by focusing on lead in paint and all the commentators are too stupid to pick up on his mistake.

        reynald

        December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

      • My previous comment was meant for another thread. But tell me why should kids (and society at large) should be unnecessarily punished because their parents are too ignorant or apathetic to prevent their kids from eating paint? The historical crime trends effected all ethnic groups relatively equally so if lead is a major driver of changes in crime rates than there’s no reason to think it was limited to white people.

        reynald

        December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Lead tastes sweet – that’s why kids will peel it off and eat it.

        Christy

        December 7, 2013 at EDT am

  6. If communities were afflicted with lead poisoning to the point that it impacted behavior, wouldn’t we also see physical effects like short stature, weakness and delayed puberty? Yet inner city kids have never been known for their shrimpiness, and in fact certain demographics are prone to precocious puberty.

    toomanyspiders

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  7. Growing up in Russia, I saw lead in two forms: in fishing weights and in thin plates, which I assume came from car batteries. Lead is malleable and we were bored, so we definitely played with it. For example, I remember throwing it in a fire and watching it melt. And I’ve definitely bitten those little fishing weights. That leaves a mark on the metal. I also remember my friends and me breaking thermometers and using our fingers to play microscopic soccer with the mercury.

    Any consequences? I don’t think so. I once scored 800 on GRE math and 730 on GRE verbal, and English isn’t even my native language.

    I know, the sample size is too small, but I am generally skeptical of health claims. For example, one sees a lot of highly contradictory nutritional claims. In situations where thousands of factors interact with each other in complicated ways, can they reliably isolate the effect of each one?

    Glossy

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Having lived in a lot of old houses, what we were always told is that unless the lead is sanded (during renovations) or the child ingests the lead tainted item on a regular basis, the risk is nominal. The only person I know personally who was lead poisoned had pica as a child and ate lead-contaminated dirt. I’ve also read stories of children getting lead poisoning from regularly eating off china that unbeknownst to the parents contained lead. You should never buy used china or dishes for this reason.

      toomanyspiders

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

      • You should also take precautions with leaded crystal. Like bpa plastics, it leaches into the liquid. It’s not so much a problem to drink out of a glass but if it sits in a decanter for a long time the levels can get pretty high. So you don’t want to store it there. Crockery, pottery, etc can also be a problem. A lot of kilns use lead free glaze for food and beverage containers but if the kiln has been used to fire objects with lead glaze then it can still exceed reguations. You can buy lead testing kits with swabs that change color. I’ve never tried it, though. It’s easier just to avoid crystal, pottery and anything from China or Mexico that’ going to be used for food or beverage.

        destructure

        December 8, 2013 at EDT am

    • I am also skeptical of health claims. First meat and milk were bad for you in the 80s and now they’re good in some respects. Whole milk is better for you than skim milk. Low fat diets deprive us of necessary brain fats, and decrease satiety and the bioavailability of fat soluble vitamins, etc. Tradition-based advice has been more consistent in this respect.

      I was going to go in to epidemiology but I found out it wasn’t what I thought it was. Too wishy-washy for me, same with social sciences — although both are interesting and hint at knowledge.

      shiva1008

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  8. Now I know why the 1950s were so violent.

    radicaldesi

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Exactly. Weren’t little Jewish, Irish, Polish and Italian kids the first to grow up in these buildings in the 1920s? Why weren’t Schmuley, Finbar, Piotr and Santo playing the knockout game for 50 years?

      Bernie

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Yes, and Camden, NJ hasn’t changed from the 80s in terms of crime rate, despite claims of lead reduction exposure. Corrupt black mayors and a low IQ population are more of a culprit than any lead based paint exposure.

        JS

        December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

      • That tip took Nevin in a different direction. The biggest source of lead in the postwar era, it turns out, wasn’t paint. It was leaded gasoline. And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early ’40s through the early ’70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

        Thats from the article. Lion just thinks he’s being clever by focusing on lead in paint and all the commentators are too stupid to pick up on his mistake.

        reynald

        December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Actually, if you’d bothered to read the article you would have seen that crime in the 1950’s was higher than today. And it continued to increase with the proliferation of cars burning leaded gasoline. It didn’t start to decrease until after they switched to unleaded.

      destructure

      December 8, 2013 at EDT am

  9. I thought you created this blog to avoid embarrassment from your commentators and yet you validate this drivel with a post? Your response consists of “dog whistle” commentary that your newer readers won’t even understand. Liberals are simply terrified that people are beginning to realize diversity and soft policing create crime. That would unravel their narrative that the left is always on the right side of history.

    eradican

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • The lead theory is one of the most bonkers liberal attempts to deny reality. Lead is a heavy metal. Heavy metals are, guess what: heavy, which means not volatile under normal atmospheric conditions. Once it is mixed with the other painting chemicals, it stays there. It does not emit vapors or else.

      The only risk is that toddlers (who chew everything) may chew at very old, weakened paint on a wall.

      Thomas

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  10. “(1) Don’t live in a house that was built before 1978, because that’s the year that lead paint was banned, and you can never be certain about how much lead might be hiding in older houses.”

    That is unnecessary advice, because the paint will have been covered over by other paint long ago. If there is no chipping paint, there is no issue.

    What then is the expanation of the extreme violence up to and including cannibalism in areas of south the the Sahara where walls have no paint, other than varying shades of mud.

    Lead paint is the panicked expanation offered by people who are freaked out by the real explanation for differential crime:

    Aitch — Bee — Dee

    Dan

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • The lead hypothesis is primarily used as an explanation for historical changes in crime rates. HBD people like to ignore history because it demonstrates that peoples with similar genetic profiles can exhibit vastly different behaviors but history is still there.

      reynald

      December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

      • How can you explain the violent crime rate for NAMs in Camden, NJ, which is now higher than it was in the 80s?

        HBD people like to ignore history because it demonstrates that peoples with similar genetic profiles can exhibit vastly different behaviors but history is still there.

        Right, I find a lot of Steve Urkel geniuses among the black community!

        JS

        December 7, 2013 at EDT pm

  11. Older homes might still have a lead pipe connection to the water mains. And soft waters like NYC’s are very corrosive.

    Frankly, if you live in any east coast city you have regular daily exposure to low levels of lead.

    On the up side, leaded gasoline disappeared decades ago.

    bob sykes

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Actually 85% of Americans have hard water. Hard water is actually protective as far as I know because the inside of pipes gets coated with mineral deposits rather than having material come out of the pipes.

      Dan

      December 7, 2013 at EDT am

  12. Test your kids’ Blood Lead Level. It’s simple and likely free; all pediatric practitioners will be familiar with the protocol.

    If it’s low, all is well. Move on to the next potential issue. If it’s high, all is definitely not well. Take action on a priority basis. If it’s intermediate, be very concerned, educate yourself and figure out what to do.

    You also have to figure out the numbers that correspond to low, intermediate, and high. That would take more effort than a quick blog comment, but it’s very doable. Pick numbers from sources you regard as sound and reliable.

    amac78

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • amac78

      Do the blood tests check for current exposure only or does it also show previous exposure? I googled that a while back but didn’t find a quick answer.

      destructure

      December 8, 2013 at EDT am

  13. Drum’s piece reads like a Malcolm Gladwell, a sweeping argument from a smart writer without any understanding of peculiar features of the problem or solution so being argued.

    Karl

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  14. Eco yurt communities with yurts made of mostly natural and non-toxic materials is the solution. They can be quite cozy and are cheap to build

    bobo

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

    • And it eliminates all that guilt associated with living a comfortable western lifestyle.

      Curle

      December 7, 2013 at EDT am

  15. They need to teach classes in school about how not to eat paint chips in your house

    shiva1008

    December 6, 2013 at EDT pm

  16. OT, check out this graph (at bottom of the page)

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/12/daily-chart-6

    Curle

    December 7, 2013 at EDT pm

  17. i remember tobacco used to argue that whether smoking caused cancer was an open question. when the odds ratio is 12 to 1, i think cause and effect not association. but smokers may live in neighborhoods with poorer air quality, etc.

    jorge videla

    December 7, 2013 at EDT pm

  18. in the 70s “acoustic” or “popcorn” ceilings were popular in new houses, and they contain asbestos.

    jorge videla

    December 7, 2013 at EDT pm

  19. Hmmmm, yes, lead from car exhaust. I guess that explains the incredible uptick in crime and violence from the 60s to the 80s in crowded urban places jammed with cars like…. Tokyo.

    Or, ummm, London, Paris, Berlin…. Places which were almost entirely white and crowded with cars, yet in those days Europe mocked the US for its high crime rates while crime in Europe was minimal. And lead removal in gasoline occurred later in Europe than in the US. Yet European crime started to increase dramatically along with…. immigration. And in places like the UK, with the long term effects of welfare policies.

    peterike

    December 7, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Spot on, the pundits who said lead waste exposure was the reason for the uptick in crime, during the later half of 20th century must have been victims of lead poisoning themselves to make the assertion, as Europe during the same time was relatively safe.

      To even discredit Giuliani for reducing crime and his role for cleaning up NYC during the 90s, is a very liberal idea, as poor performance or mediocrity is no difference from excellence in the Leftist view of the things. Some individuals even had the audacity to say Mayor Dinkins paved way for Giuliani’s greatness. Any sane person who was old enough to remember Dinkins at the time, would say he was a horrible mayor who fomented tensions between underachieving NAM losers and the more deserving citizens of NYC.

      JS

      December 8, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Pretty much.

      Dan

      December 8, 2013 at EDT pm

  20. Lead is also supposed to inhibit growth, yet blacks dominate spots.

    ben

    December 8, 2013 at EDT am

  21. It is a good thing Africans were never exposed to lead the way America and Europe were. Africa would be a mess.

    JHP

    December 8, 2013 at EDT pm

  22. I’ve been writing about lead-crime-IQ since 2007. Here’s a summary article of as far as I’ve gotten:

    http://takimag.com/article/did_heavy_metal_brain_damage_cause_the_1960s_steve_sailer#axzz2mjNuJcQ0

    Steve Sailer

    December 8, 2013 at EDT pm

  23. funny that there hasn’t been a peep about george zimmerman’s recent trial on here.

    CM

    December 8, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Zimmerman is prole.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 9, 2013 at EDT am

    • Zimmerman’s new girl just decided to drop all charges and changed her story to protect his sacred honor because she desperately wants to be with him. True.

      I guess seeing him in trouble with the law got her all hot and bothered.

      Dan

      December 9, 2013 at EDT pm

  24. Speaking of crime, new NYC crime map is fun. I like how you can pick a type of crime and see the map change.

    http://maps.nyc.gov/crime/

    peterike

    December 9, 2013 at EDT am


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