NEWS: Pollution increases criminality

Erik Moeller (
Fri, 30 May 1997 18:53:14 +0200

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Subject: Polluted water can cause brain damage that leads to a life of
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Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 10:14:15 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: IP: Dirty Water=Crime???

Polluted water can cause brain damage that leads to a life of crime,
researcher claims

Copyright =A9 1997 Reuter Information Service=20

LONDON (May 29, 1997 00:49 a.m. EDT) - New Scientist magazine reported
Thursday that polluted water can cause brain damage that turns ordinary
people into violent criminals.

It quoted a U.S. researcher who said he had made a careful analysis showing
that toxic metals in drinking water were linked to crime rates.

Roger Masters of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire compared crime figures
from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with information on
industrial discharges of lead and manganese from the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).

He found a definite link between pollution figures and levels of murder,
assault and robbery. Counties with the highest pollution levels had crime
rates triple the national average.

"The presence of pollution is as big a factor as poverty," Masters told New

Masters has written about his findings in a book, Environmental Toxicology,
to be published later this year. He says there is a physical basis for the

Experiments have shown lead can inhibit the action of glial cells, which
help clean up unwanted chemicals in the brain. Other tests have shown
manganese can interfere with levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and
dopamine -- chemical messengers linked with mood and behavior.

"It's the breakdown of the inhibition mechanism that's the key to violent
behavior," Masters said.

"This quite likely has something in it," Ken Pease, director of the Applied
Criminology Research Unit at the University of Huddersfiled, told New=

"But I think the approach badly needs individual data to nail it down."

Copyright =A9 1997

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