This paper estimates the short-run and long-run impacts of early childhood lead exposure from drinking water on educational outcomes, the spatial and demographic distribution of these impacts, and the welfare impacts of lead abatement policies. I merge data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on lead violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act with data on individual standard test scores, educational attainment, and wages from restrictive-use Texas data. I also match lead concentration in drinking water with Blood Lead Levels (BLLs) data, education and labor-market outcomes for a subgroup of individuals for whom we can identify their drinking water provider in Texas to understand the dose-response impacts of lead in drinking water. I ﬁnd that lead exposure at birth from drinking water has signiﬁcant negative impact on students’ 3rd grade standard test scores. In the long run, it also signiﬁcantly reduce the high school graduation rate.
Suicide and Lithium in the Public Water Supply of 870 US Counties
Several studies have reported that suicide rates are lower in areas with higher concentrations of lithium in drinking water. Some authors have recommended adding lithium to the public water supply. We estimate the association between suicide and drinking-water lithium in the largest dataset yet used for this purpose. In 870 US counties, we regress county suicide rates on lithium concentrations in groundwater and surface water. We control for spatial correlation and county-level correlates of suicide rates, including economic conditions and religious, racial, and ethnic composition. With or without covariates, we ﬁnd no signiﬁcant association between county suicide rates and the concentration of lithium in the water supply. Our results do not support a policy of adding lithium to the water supply.