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Science & Technology

Crime and pollution

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Jul 15, 1997 | From the print edition

Environmental
pollution is responsible for a
significant share of
violent crime and
antisocial behaviour, according to
an analysis by
Roger Masters of
Dartmouth
College, New
Hampshire. He says
metals in, drinki,
disrupt the neuro
social, economic and
psychological
factors cannot fully
explain why
some counties in the
US have only
100 violent crimes
per 100,000
people each year,
while others have
over 3,000. He
points to experiments on cell
cultures which have
shown that lead
partly incapacitates
glial cells, which
are responsible
for "housekeeping"
in the brain,
mopping up unwanted
chemicals.
And in people
suffering from calcium deficiency,
which afflicts some
of the poorest
citizens in the US,
manganese inhibits
the uptake of
the neuro-transmitters
serotonin
and dopamine in
parts of the brain.
These chemicals are
known to con-
trol impulsive
behaviour (New
Scientist, Vol 154,
No 2084).

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