Nearly 186 million Americans are drinking lead in their water, around 1 part per billion. Lead contamination has been proven to create a slew of health related issues including learning disabilities, hearing loss and so on. As more research has been conducted on this, results have shown an heightened number that correlates between drinking water contaminated with lead, and mental health issues. Environmental reporter, Christian Maruzik, conducted a study one of the worst regions in the country for lead contaminated water, Western Pennsylvania. While it’s especially problematic for children, the effects of mental illness can show up much later in life from lead exposure. Increasing evidence of psychiatric disorders in adults who were exposed to lead when they were children, 1.5 million people in the US and Europe showed that there was a much higher rate of children with psychiatric issues as adults such as lower conscientiousness, agreeableness, higher neuroticism due to prior lead exposure. In the NMDA receptor which is critically important for brain development, inhibitor neurons are created. When people have been exposed to lead, they create fewer of these neurons and therefore their brain development has been hindered. Those who suffer from lead exposures in certain neighborhoods will also be more likely to experience other environmental injustices and environmental racism along with contamination exposures. One harmful exposure to something in a child’s environment can also magnify something else that they have been exposed to as a synergistic effect. Replacing lead pipes poses a challenge that if the entire water line hasn’t been replaced, leading to more lead exposure. The issue is that they don’t have the funding to replace these pipes, leaving people to be exposed and in harm’s way.
Photo by: Karolina Grabowska