The 1980’s were a turbulent era. According to studies, it was the most violent era in US history. Crime peaked, but then fell off afterwards. While some tried to claim that new policing methods and aggressive zero-tolerance programs were responsible, scientific studies point not to how we handled crime, but what we used in our cars as the true culprit.

As early as this 1979 study, scientists have found a link between exposure to tetraethyl lead, what once was a common gasoline additive and a key cause of vehicular smog along our highways, and several neurological disorders, such as autism and ADHD. It has been long noted that these disorders are most common along our nation’s roads and highways, as were incidents of violent crime. In effect, our automobiles were causing the rise in crime, along with neurological problems among our nations youth.

Tetraethyl lead – Cause of Crime

People with neurological disorders are more prone to engage in criminal behavior due to a lack of impulse control. Being left unable to fully control their impulses, you can find people with ADHD and autism damaging public property, getting into fights, borrowing a car without asking, and more without considering the consequences of their actions. Also, being unable to control themselves, they tend to make simple mistakes that expose their behavior. And for many decades, the United States forced minorities into urban areas, the very areas which were the most heavily polluted with this behavior altering toxin. These factors together then become a perfect storm environment for the conditions which plague inner-city youth and minorities today.

The impact from this exposure rose and fell in pattern with the use of tetraethyl lead, only delayed to account for age of exposure, by 23 years. Similarly, once accounted for the use of medication for treating these disorders, the pattern is as clear as day. And when That’s the conclusion from a set of studies recently authored by Colorado State University researchers in economics, atmospheric science and statistics. Together, the team found strong links between short-term exposure to ai, through behavioral therapy alongside medication, we find a significant drop in the crime rate once they hit adulthood.

Some want the lead back

Despite the science demonstrating the toxic effects of tetraethyl lead, there remain a group dedicated to undoing the protections which currently save an estimated 1.2 million lives annually. Before her retirement from Congress, Michele Bachmann co-sponsored the Gasoline Freedom of Choice Act with the goal to reintroduce leaded gasoline into the environment, as part of the broader Republican fight against the EPA.

With a solid link between environmental regulations and crime reduction now established, we need to put those who wish to return to the era of DDT and leaded gasoline on the spot as being not only soft on crime, but wanting to see crime expand. Those who demand an unregulated market, to let businesses do whatever they please, are not only deluded, but dangerous. Claims that the free market will resolve all conflicts ignore issues such as this which only become apparent years, if not decades after which the damage is already done.

If we let corporations gut environmental protections, it is ultimately our children who will pay the price.

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