Poison: Another Reason for Cleveland’s Violence?


Normally, we don’t put much stock in economists who wax poetic about crime. But Rick Nevin, an economist from Virginia, has come up with a theory that’s too appealing to resist. He claims that childhood lead poisoning — from things like paint and gas fumes -- is a big factor in our nation’s periodic spikes in violent crime. In a Washington Post story, Nevin contends that bouts of violence occur when victims of lead poisoning become teenagers. Then, about 20 years after major crackdowns on lead -- such as bans that passed in the late ‘70s and ‘80s -- crime takes a nose dive. For Cleveland, a city with one of the highest rates of lead poisoning in the country [“The Poison Kids,” Aug.16], this is serious stuff. Last year, we were America’s seventh most dangerous city, and The Plain Dealer just reported that we’re on track to set a new homicide record again this year. Lead obviously is not to blame for all of it, but with at least 1,700 poisoned kids in the city, it can’t be helping. – Lisa Rab


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