Childhood exposure to lead linked to less agreeable and conscientious adults

Maciamo

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The abundance and malleability of lead has made it a prime material to use as pipes since ancient times. The word plumbing itself comes from the Latin word for lead (plumbum, hence Pb for the chemical symbol). Yet it has been known for decades that lead was toxic, especially for the brain, and could cause headaches, irritability, intellectual disability, and antisocial behaviour. A new study shows that it also affects personality. In countries where lead exposure in the environment was higher people tended to be less agreeable.

The Economist: Lead exposure during childhood has long-lasting effects


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Lead is/was not only found in plumbing, but also in paint and gasoline. It was only completely banned from gasoline in 1986 in Japan, in 1996 in the US and in 2000 in the EU (although some EU countries had banned it since the mid-1980s).

Lead in paint also leaks in the air and affects the occupants. It was banned in 1926 in Belgium, 1939 in the Netherlands, 1948 in France, 1978 in the US and Germany, 1992 in the UK, and only in 2019 in Japan.

Lead in plumbing was banned in 1986 in the US, in 1994 in Belgium, in 1995 in France and Japan, and in 1999 in the UK. It is still legal in some (poorer) countries.
 

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