Was leaded gasoline responsible for a surge in crime?


A major spike in crime took place as the 20th century progressed, but then as the century wound down crime statistics declined just as fast as they grew.  What’s the reason for this? While many theories have been proposed, a fascinating BBC article talks about whether the use of lead as an additive in gasoline was a major culprit.

The harms of lead have been documented by now, but they weren’t nearly as well known when they were a major component in gasoline. Those putting forth the theory noted that there would be a 20-year lag between the heavy use of lead in gasoline and its effects, and they show a crime graph that grows as lead was more commonplace, and falls after lead was removed due to the hazards of it.

There are some that are dubious, and time will tell based on whether another serious crime spike like it occurs, but it’s an interesting theory as to why for awhile crime exploded.


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