Is there a link between pollution and higher crime rates? An article published in The Journal of Economic Analysis theorizes that lead contamination increases crime and violence. The author based her theory on known effects of lead on children and their behavior. She also says the major souirce of lead pollution in America through the early 1980s was leaded gasoline, not lead-based paints. Leaded gasoline went away after the U.S. Clean Air Act was passed. Today American children's lead levels are now about one-fifth of what they were in the late 1970s. Lead levels have remained higher in American blacks than other ethnic groups through the entire period.
A piece in the New York Times summarizes argument for and against the lead-leads-to-crime theory. Interestingly young Americans are now policing three countries where leaded gasoline is still widely used: Afghanistan, Iraq and Serbia. Wouldn't you think the U.S. government could use a little suasion to get those folks to stop using leaded gasoline? I'll bet the Pentagon already has a list of all known oil refineries in those nations. Whaddaya bet?
It's worth noting that the Clean Air Act in the U.S. and its amendments were NOT passed with support from the regulated industries in general. The usual arguments that the government restrictions would cut profits and force more out-sourcing were used to try to stop the law. It does mean that if you want to burn leaded gasoline, you gotta go some place like Serbia or Iraq.