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Car-Centric Big Cities More Violent Because Of Gasoline Lead

Concrete jungles have been plagued with violent crime much more so than small towns, with few concrete answers as to why. In a recent Mother Jones article, Kevin Drum outlines why exposure to gasoline lead has driven violence in major cities.

Image: Late afternoon traffic via Shutterstock

What’s all the brouhaha about lead? For starters, lead is a toxic metal that can be emitted into the air and then inhaled, where it accumulates in the body over time. This accumulation can be fatal or cause serious mental and physical impairments.

Drum argues that bigger cities have a higher concentration of cars — and therefore a higher concentration of airborne lead — than smaller cities. This exposure to gasoline lead resulted in children with aggressive tendencies and a rise in violent crime.

The upside to this argument is that decreasing exposure to gasoline lead has been  followed by a drop in violent crime. And how have we achieved a decrease in gasoline lead exposure? And how can we decrease it more? By insisting that particle emissions from cars are regulated; encouraging cities to improve bikeways; and voting for legislators that listen to constituent demands for more public transit, just to name a few.

Source: Planetizen

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is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.


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