Urban Dirt Responsible for Chronic Lead Poisoning in US Youth

According to a new study, contaminated soil in older cities is found to be responsible for chronic lead poisoning in children in epidemic proportions, affecting hundreds of thousands of children. Study author, Gabriel M. Filippelli, Ph.D., professor of earth sciences and department chair at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis writes,, “Blood Pb (lead) levels above 10 μg/dL are disproportionately found in children living in many USA cities (15–20% in some cities compared to a national average of less than 2%) indicates that not all of the sources have been eliminated.”

He explains the problem further: “The blowing soil and dust young children ingest contains large amount of lead from lead paint and leaded gasoline deposited decades ago, and from industrial contamination. In Indianapolis, we found high levels of soil contamination. Many older urban centers, have lead poisoning rates that are 5 to 10 times the national average."

Chronic lead poisoning is more difficult to treat than is acute lead poisoning, and recovery can take years. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of lead, and it is common for levels for build up over time. Low levels of lead can affect a child’s mental development, and higher levels can produce aggression, irritability, digestive disorders, decreased appetite, and lack of energy, headaches, difficulty sleeping and sleep disturbance. Chelation therapy can be used to remove lead that has been built up over time.(1) Dr. Filippelli suggests the possibility of gong into areas that are covered with dirt, and spraying with high powered showers when moisture levels in the soil are low, to prevent dust from blowing from house to house, something that might be done on a regional basis.

Dr. Filippelli says, "Our review plus the new directions we suggest for remoisturizing soil to prevent blowing of contaminants, confirm that our approach to estimating lead burden and its remediation can be done anywhere in the U.S. where there is a lead concern. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have focused their attention on indoor contamination as the direct source of lead to children. It is now time to open the door and solve the contaminated soil problem. We hope our study will raise awareness, and ultimately funding, to stop the poisoning of America's children, especially those living in older urban areas.”

(1 ) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002473.htm

Source: Resuspension of urban soils as a persistent source of lead poisoning in children: A review and new directions

Resource: Chronic Lead Poisoning From Urban Soils