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Air Pollution May Be Linked to Increases in Violent Crime

Criminals are understood as to be those who function outside of a coexistent society. They are defined as “deviants” and “outsiders” because society paints criminals to be unable to fit into our society without some form of rehabilitation or the use of punishment to deter unacceptable actions. However, there are studies put forth that show that many of these “criminals” were actually made this way as a result of society’s influence. The correlation between external, societal factors and the making of a criminal is being demonstrated in studies to be more and more linked; this makes the concept of “criminality” more difficult to understand.

Science is coming forward and showing that criminality is not a manifestation of pure evil incarnate, but may actually be due to a more complex understanding of how our society may influence the choices of generally good people to make bad decisions. A new study recently published puts forth the idea that criminality may just be in the air that we breathe.

The Study Behind The Correlation Between Air Pollution and Violent Crime

Simply put and according to the study, air pollution may have an effect on violent crimes. The study, published by the National Bureau for Economic Research and found in the Washington Post, evaluated crime data compiled by the Chicago Police Department, as well as the meteorological data of when winds blow tailpipe exhaust from the major highways into neighborhoods affected by violent crimes. The study, however, was only able to observe an increase in violent crimes, whereas other types of crime were not observed to be affected.

The Effect of Other Factors on This Correlation

The extent of the effect, however, is still yet to be understood. The study attempted to control for other factors such as income, and found that when they compared each neighborhood to itself, the ability to focus on the impact of air pollution as opposed to income made the argument stronger. For example, violent crimes have been shown to occur more consistently in low-income neighborhoods. Low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be found close to major highways and other undesirable locations. However, when comparing a low-income neighborhood’s crime rate to itself and when the wind was or was not blowing air pollution into the neighborhood, an increase of 2.2 percent of violent crime was observed in times where the wind blew smog into the area.

Temperature, which has been correlated with increases in violent crime, was also controlled in the study to ensure that extreme heat or cold were not factors in the upsurge of violent crime.

How Does Smog Affect Violent Crime?

The study and its strength are still in the process of being ascertained. The researchers of the study are still unable to determine what exactly about the air pollution is causing the effect, i.e. whether it is the carbon monoxide or the nitrogen oxides that are truly at fault. It is also not understood why exactly smog would have this effect on violent criminal behavior. They have suggested, but have not definitively proven, that air pollution increases irritation, aggression, and cognitive impairment leading to an inability to control oneself and violent outbursts.

The study is a start to potentially greater finds, which may affect not only how we understand criminality and criminal behaviors, but also society’s push toward limiting the effects of climate change.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Whether air pollution or other societal factors are the reason why you or a loved one has been charged with the commission of a crime, it is important speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who can advocate on your behalf and help you navigate the criminal justice system in Florida. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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