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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 27;12(11):e0187953. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187953. eCollection 2017.

Aggregate-level lead exposure, gun violence, homicide, and rape.

Author information

1
School of Social Work, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
2
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
3
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Indiana University - Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, United States of America.
4
School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America.
5
Center for Social and Humanities Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
6
College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America.
7
Department of Criminal Justice, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Missouri, United States of America.
8
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
9
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

An increasing body of research has linked the geographic distribution of lead with various indicators of criminal and antisocial behavior.

OBJECTIVE:

The current study, using data from an ongoing project related to lead exposure in St. Louis City, MO, analyzed the association between aggregate blood lead levels and specific indicators violent crime within the city.

DESIGN:

Ecological study.

SETTING:

St. Louis, Missouri.

EXPOSURE MEASURE:

Blood lead levels.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

Official reports of violent crimes were categorized as 1) crimes involving a firearm (yes/no), 2) assault crimes (with or without a firearm), 3) robbery crimes (with or without a firearm), 4) homicides and 5) rape.

RESULTS:

With the exception of rape, aggregate blood-lead levels were statistically significant predictors of violent crime at the census tract level. The risk ratios for each of the outcome measures were as follows: firearm crimes 1.03 (1.03-1.04), assault crimes 1.03 (1.02-1.03), robbery crimes 1.03 (1.02-1.04), homicide 1.03 (1.01, 1.04), and rape 1.01 (0.99-1.03).

CONCLUSIONS:

Extending prior research in St. Louis, results suggest that aggregated lead exposure at the census tract level predicted crime outcomes, even after accounting for important sociological variables. Moving forward, a more developed understanding of aggregate level crime may necessitate a shift toward studying the synergy between sociological and biological risk factors such as lead exposure.

PMID:
29176826
PMCID:
PMC5703470
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0187953
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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