Recent studies linking various health and economic impacts of environmental contamination should cause policymakers to reevaluate their priorities when it comes to environmental legislation and regulation. Three key areas of research in this area stand out: the connection between certain pesticides and Parkinson’s, the correlation between elevated lead in gasoline with crime rates, and the link between air pollution and autism.
A study released last year by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center showed the connection between Parkinson’s disease and the use of two pesticides, rotenone and paraquat. People who had used either pesticide developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than those who did not use the chemicals. Mercifully, there are no residential uses for either paraquat or rotenone currently registered, but that restriction for rotenone was only put in place, voluntarily by its producers, in 2006. Paraquat use is restricted to certified applicators, and rotenone is now only permitted in the killing of invasive fish species.
A study released early this year revealed that the change in leaded gasoline usage has a high correlation with violent crime rates in America. Tulane University toxicologist Howard W. Mielke found that the exposure of children to high levels of lead in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a significant uptick in crime 20 years later.
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