Reyes on the Costs of Lead Poisoning

Submitted on Monday, 3/4/2013, at 12:15 PM

For an article on the persistent —and increasing— problem of lead poisoning in American society, Scientific American spoke with Associate Professor of Economics Jessica W. Reyes about the financial impact of lead.

Reyes estimated that societal costs related to lead poisoning, including direct medical costs, special education classes, and incarcerations for violent crime, amount to about $209 billion per year. She expressed hope that improved regulation of lead could be encouraged as a cost savings.

“Perhaps we will find that an X-amount of reduction in lead exposure equates with an X-amount of rise in test scores” [which has been shown in Massachusetts], she said. “Or perhaps we will find that a certain amount of reduction equates with a certain reduction in health-care costs.”