Lead can cause personality changes and carry risks for life. It remains in the water pipes of America.

The detrimental effects of lead in drinking water have gained more attention since the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal on Thursday to remove all lead pipes in the nation within the next ten years.

Among those risks, an increasing amount of research indicates that prolonged exposure to lead may have an effect on an individual's personality.

According to a University of Texas study, exposure to lead during childhood was associated with a decrease in considerateness and agreeableness among other personality traits.

After controlling for socioeconomic status, researchers found that people who grew up in areas with higher levels of atmospheric lead were more likely to exhibit neurotic behaviors in their 1.5 million U.S. and European participants between the ages of 20 and 30. 

 This finding was reported in a 2021 study published in the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings.

According to Natalie Exum, an environmental health scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the data point to a general "damping down of an individual's potential,"

though it is challenging to draw an objective connection between something as nebulous as personality and lead exposure. 

"What that's indicating is the neurotoxic nature of lead – especially for children."

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