Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Legacy Urban Soil and Dust Lead Contamination and Children's Blood Lead Seasonality

Date and Time
Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.


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In this Pb Seminar, "Legacy Urban Soil and Dust Lead Contamination and Children's Blood Lead Seasonality: The Main Driver of Lead Poisoning in America?" Dr. Mark Laidlaw talks about seasonality in children's blood lead (Pb) levels and the links to legacy lead in urban soils.

Urban soils in America have been historically contaminated with a legacy of 5 to 6 million tons from past emissions of leaded gasoline and millions of tons of lead from deteriorating exterior lead-based paints, forming a soil lead bullseye pattern in urban areas. The average monthly blood lead level of children plotted over time in many American urban areas have indicated that blood lead levels peak in the dry months of the year coinciding with the resuspension of lead dust from contaminated soil. The pattern of children's blood lead seasonality is the dominant trend in children’s blood lead levels in America. Therefore, it is suggested that resuspended lead contaminated urban soil is the main driver of children’s lead poisoning patterns in America. This indicates that primary prevention of legacy lead is needed in order to eliminate the remaining pockets of lead poisoning in America. In practice this means that urban lead contaminated soils and exterior lead-based paint will require isolation and / or remediation.