ZWA REPORTS: The Connection Between Toxics and Violence in Children
Landes cites the article, "Toxics and Violent Crime," June 19, 1997, by Peter Montegue, editor of Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly, which reports that, "Pollution causes people to commit violent crimes -- homicide, aggravated assault, sexual assault and robbery -- according to new research by Roger D. Masters and co-workers at Dartmouth College."
Montegue reports, "Masters cites ... studies showing that violent prisoners have significantly elevated levels of lead, manganese, cadmium, mercury or other toxic metals, compared to prisoners who are not violent."
"The presence of pollution is as big a factor as poverty," Masters said recently in an interview in NEW SCIENTIST magazine. "It's the breakdown of the inhibition mechanism that's the key to violent behavior," he says. When our brain chemistry is altered by exposure to toxins, we lose the natural restraint that holds our violent tendencies in check, Masters believes.
Montegue concludes with a quote from the former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, "Regarding violence in our society as purely a sociologic matter, or one of law enforcement, has led to an unmitigated failure. It is time to test further whether violence can be amenable to medical/public health interventions."
/CONTACT: Lynn Landes of Zero Waste America, 215-493-1070, or e-mail,
Also see: Health Impacts of Waste and Pollution