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Cognitive disparities, lead plumbing, and water chemistry: Prior exposure to water-borne lead and intelligence test scores among World War Two U.S. Army enlistees

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  • Ferrie, Joseph P.
  • Rolf, Karen
  • Troesken, Werner
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    Abstract

    Higher prior exposure to water-borne lead among male World War Two U.S. Army enlistees was associated with lower intelligence test scores. Exposure was proxied by urban residence and the water pH levels of the cities where enlistees lived in 1930. Army General Classification Test scores were six points lower (nearly 1/3 standard deviation) where pH was 6 (so the water lead concentration for a given amount of lead piping was higher) than where pH was 7 (so the concentration was lower). This difference rose with time exposed. At this time, the dangers of exposure to lead in water were not widely known and lead was ubiquitous in water systems, so these results are not likely the effect of individuals selecting into locations with different levels of exposure.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570677X11000943
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

    Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 98-111

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:10:y:2012:i:1:p:98-111

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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    Keywords: Lead exposure; IQ; Intelligence; Early-life conditions;

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    References

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    1. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," NBER Working Papers 13097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Reyes Jessica Wolpaw, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-43, October.
    3. Suzi Kerr & Richard G. Newell, 2003. "Policy-Induced Technology Adoption: Evidence from the U.S. Lead Phasedown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 317-343, 09.
    4. Guang Guo & Kathleen Harris, 2000. "The mechanisms mediating the effects of poverty on children’s intellectual development," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 431-447, November.
    5. Werner Troesken, 2006. "The Great Lead Water Pipe Disaster," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262201674.
    6. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117, 02.
    7. Hilton, F. G. Hank & Levinson, Arik, 1998. "Factoring the Environmental Kuznets Curve: Evidence from Automotive Lead Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 126-141, March.
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