Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Mapping Legacy Soil Lead in Durham, North Carolina

Date and Time
Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Online Webinar


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Please gather your lunch and join us via Zoom on Thursday, Oct. 22nd at 12:00pm EST to hear Dr. Anna Wade and Dr. Dan Richter, Jr. talk about “Mapping Legacy Soil Lead in Durham, NC”. Through a Bass Connections research-education project, they have worked to produce the first city soil-lead map in the state. The team sampled urban soils in public spaces, parks, streetside right of ways, and in and around private homes across the city.  They have also mapped Duke University’s East campus using a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer. The team has analyzed nearly 1000 soil samples for lead and other chemicals and can report that although it has been nearly 50 years since lead was phased out of gasoline and fresh paint, the legacy of that lead is still found in the city’s surface soils with highest concentrations around foundations of homes older than 1980, and along streetsides of streets with historically high traffic. The work supports a hypothesis that urban soil lead is decreasing in concentration over the decades but that lead hotspots remain behind because of the chemical immobility of lead in most soils. The authors will discuss future directions as well as opportunities for collaboration.
This talk is occurring as part of a new project on “Understanding and Controlling Urban Soil Lead Contamination and Its Impact on Public Health” supported by the Nicholas Institute’s Catalyst Program. The Catalyst Program aims build on the Nicholas Institute’s mission by increasing engagement with Duke faculty to incubate and advance new partnerships, enhance policy-relevant knowledge, and create innovative policy solutions based on new creative synergies.

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