Lead exposure and its implications for criminological theory

Raymund E. Narag, Jesenia Pizarro, Carole Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This article summarizes what is known about the association between lead exposure and human behavior and discusses the implications for criminology. It provides background information about lead sources and measurement and traces the various impacts of lead exposure on humans, including cognition and behavior. It posits that the link between lead exposure, aggression, delinquency, and crime is consistent with the traditional individual-level psychological based and aggregate-level sociological based theories that explain delinquent and criminal behavior and that differential lead exposure and treatment by neighborhood is congruent with theories of social disadvantage. It concludes by enumerating the unsettled debates about the impact of lead exposure and by outlining the profitable avenues for future criminological research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)954-973
Number of pages20
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biosocial
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Crime
  • Lead
  • Neuropsychological deficits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)
  • Law


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