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Lead contaminated soil abatement

Health Factors: Air & Water Quality
Decision Makers: Community Development Professionals Community Members Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Lead contaminated soil abatement efforts clean, remove, replace, or cover contaminated soil. Permanent efforts remove contaminated soil, test what remains, and cover it with non-contaminated soil, or, cover contaminated soil with asphalt or concrete. Interim soil abatement measures cover contaminated soil with non-contaminated soil, mulch, sod, or grass (US EPA-Lead hazard training 2004). Contaminated soil can also be cleaned by physically encapsulating contaminants (solidification), chemically reducing contaminant mobility (stabilization), or extraction (Mulligan 2001). Lead is a health hazard for children who play in or near contaminated soil, or track it into homes. Lead levels of 400 ppm in a play area and 1,200 ppm in the rest of a yard are considered a soil lead hazard (US EPA-Lead hazard training 2004). As of 2012, scientists indicate no safe blood lead level (BLL); children whose lead tests show a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) require treatment for lead poisoning (White 2015, NCHH-Lead 2014, CDC-Lead facts).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced lead exposure
Improved health outcomes

Evidence of Effectiveness

Lead contaminated soil abatement is a suggested strategy to reduce lead exposure and blood lead levels (BLLs), especially in children (US EPA-Lead hazard training 2004). Available evidence associates both permanent and interim soil abatement with reduced lead exposure (Schoof 2016, von Lindern 2016, Dixon 2006, Mielke 2006) and a strong pattern of peak lead levels in warmer weather suggests that lead contaminated soil and airborne lead soil are significant contributors to children’s lead exposure (Laidlaw 2016, Laidlaw 2005, Schoof 2016). However, additional evidence is needed to determine the effects of lead soil abatement strategies (Cochrane-Nussbaumer-Streit 2016).

Montana and Idaho-based studies associate community-wide soil remediation efforts combined with screening, education, and other abatement strategies with reductions in children’s BLLs (Schoof 2016, von Lindern 2016) and a Brazil-based study associates combined abatement efforts that include contaminated soil removal with reductions in lead exposure and children’s BLLs (de Freitas 2007). An assessment of the Boston lead safe yard project suggests that, when maintained, plant barriers and ground cover can reduce lead exposure one year after installation (Dixon 2006). Studies in urban areas suggest using phosphate-rich amendments like fish bones can remediate lead in soil (Freeman 2012).

Appropriate soil remediation methods vary by site. Capping contaminated soil with clean soil and covering with grass, for example, appears to cost-effectively reduce childhood lead exposure (Filippelli 2011); however, areas with high lead levels may require more intensive efforts (Harvey 2016). Soil abatement efforts may be most effective when combined with lead paint abatement and groundcover plantings (Mielke 2006).

Lead abatement can improve health outcomes for children and adults by reducing neurotoxicity rates, developmental disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-related behaviors (ADHD), anemia, hypertension, and kidney and brain damage (Armstrong 2014, Berg 2012, NCHH-Jacobs 2009). Newborn infants are especially vulnerable to effects of lead exposure (Vigeh 2014); a St. Louis-based study suggests prenatal screening and proactive lead hazard remediation, including soil remediation, can prevent exposure among newborns (Berg 2012). Reduced lead exposure may be linked to reductions in violent crime roughly twenty years after exposure would have occurred (Wolpaw Reyes 2015, NBER-Wolpaw Reyes 2007, Feigenbaum 2015). 

Childhood lead poisoning is most common among families with lower incomes, those living in older homes, and those residing in urban areas which have more lead in the soil (White 2015, Korfmacher 2014, Reed 2011a, NCHH-Lead 2014). On average, black children from low income families have higher blood lead levels than white or Hispanic children from low income families (White 2015).

Cost benefit analysis finds positive net benefits and a high rate of return for lead abatement programs overall (Cochrane-Nussbaumer-Streit 2016, Gould 2009). Economic models suggest that future earnings and decreased medical costs for children who benefit from these programs range from 2-20 times the estimated cost of lead abatement (Jones 2012). 

City-wide mapping to identify lead contaminated soil, before children’s blood test results indicate lead exposure, can support proactive remediation and prevent lead exposure (Mielke 2014). 

Implementation

United States

The 10 regional offices of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) each have a designated Regional Lead Coordinator who oversees lead-poisoning prevention efforts, including lead contaminated soil abatement, in the region (US EPA-Lead contacts).

Individuals can have their soil tested for lead contamination through many state universities, colleges, or laboratories around the country. Soil tests typically cost between $10-20 per sample (GC-Soil testing).

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services provides information and resources about lead hazards, including soil contamination (WI DHS-Lead).

Implementation Resources

CDC-Lead facts - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lead: Facts, tips, tools, training, and resources for childhood lead poisoning prevention. Accessed on October 25, 2016
PennState Ext-Lead soil - Penn State Extension, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Lead in residential soils: Sources, testing, and reducing exposure. Accessed on January 5, 2017
UMN Ext-Rosen - Rosen CJ. Lead in the home garden and urban soil environment. University of Minnesota Extension (UMN Ext). Accessed on January 5, 2017
US EPA-Lead hazard standards - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Hazard standards for lead in paint, dust and soil (TSCA Section 403). Accessed on February 28, 2017
US EPA-Lead hazard training 2004 - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). EPA model lead-based paint abatement worker training course. 2004. Accessed on February 28, 2017
US EPA-Lead hotline - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Lead hotline: The national lead information center. Accessed on February 28, 2017
US EPA-Protect your family - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), US Consumer Product Safety Commission, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Protect your family from lead in your home. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); 2012. Accessed on February 28, 2017

Citations - Description

CDC-Lead facts - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lead: Facts, tips, tools, training, and resources for childhood lead poisoning prevention. Accessed on October 25, 2016
Mulligan 2001* - Mulligan CN, Yong RN, Gibbs BF. Remediation technologies for metal-contaminated soils and groundwater: An evaluation. Engineering Geology. 2001;60(1-4):193-207. Accessed on January 5, 2017
NCHH-Lead 2014 - National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). Preventing lead exposure in US children: A blueprint for action. 2014. Accessed on October 26, 2016
US EPA-Lead hazard training 2004 - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). EPA model lead-based paint abatement worker training course. 2004. Accessed on February 28, 2017
White 2015 - White BM, Bonilha HS, Ellis C. Racial/ethnic differences in childhood blood lead levels among children <72 months of age in the United States: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 2015:1-9. Accessed on October 26, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Armstrong 2014 - Armstrong R, Anderson L, Synnot A, et al. Evaluation of evidence related to exposure to lead. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council; 2014. Accessed on October 25, 2016
Berg 2012* - Berg DR, Eckstein ET, Steiner MS, Gavard JA, Gross GA. Childhood lead poisoning prevention through prenatal housing inspection and remediation in St. Louis, MO. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012;206(3):199.e1-199.e4. Accessed on October 25, 2016
Cochrane-Nussbaumer-Streit 2016* - Nussbaumer-Streit B, Yeoh B, Griebler U, et al. Household interventions for preventing domestic lead exposure in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016;(12):CD006047. Accessed on November 1, 2016
de Freitas 2007* - de Freitas CU, De Capitani EM, Gouveia N, et al. Lead exposure in an urban community: Investigation of risk factors and assessment of the impact of lead abatement measures. Environmental Research. 2007;103(3):338-344. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Dixon 2006* - Dixon SL, McLaine P, Kawecki C, et al. The effectiveness of low-cost soil treatments to reduce soil and dust lead hazards: The Boston lead safe yards low cost lead in soil treatment, demonstration and evaluation. Environmental Research. 2006;102(1):113-124. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Feigenbaum 2015 - Feigenbaum JJ, Muller C. Lead exposure and violent crime in the early twentieth city. Cambridge: Harvard University; 2015. Accessed on October 26, 2016
Filippelli 2011* - Filippelli GM, Laidlaw MAS. The elephant in the playground: Confronting lead-contaminated soils as an important source of lead burdens to urban populations. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 2010;53(1):31-45. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Freeman 2012 - Freeman KS. Remediating soil lead with fish bones. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2012;120(1):a20-a21. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Gould 2009 - Gould E. Childhood lead poisoning: Conservative estimates of the social and economic benefits of lead hazard control. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2009;117(7):1162-7. Accessed on October 26, 2016
Harvey 2016* - Harvey PJ, Taylor MP, Kristensen LJ, et al. Evaluation and assessment of the efficacy of an abatement strategy in a former lead smelter community, Boolaroo, Australia. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 2016;38(4):941-954. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Jones 2012* - Jones DJ. Primary prevention and health outcomes: Treatment of residential lead-based paint hazards and the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning. Journal of Urban Economics. 2012;71(1):151-164. Accessed on October 26, 2016
Korfmacher 2014 - Korfmacher KS, Malone J, Jacobs D. Local housing policy approaches to preventing childhood lead poisoning. Public Health Law Research: Making the Case for Laws that Improve Health. 2014. Accessed on October 26, 2016
Laidlaw 2005 - Laidlaw MAS, Mielke HW, Filippelli GM, Johnson DL, Gonzales CR. Seasonality and children’s blood lead levels: Developing a predictive model using climatic variables and blood lead data from Indianapolis, Indiana, Syracuse, New York, and New Orleans, Louisiana (USA). Environmental Health Perspectives. 2005;113(6):793-800. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Laidlaw 2016 - Laidlaw M, Filippelli G, Sadler R, Gonzales C, Ball A, Mielke H. Children’s blood lead seasonality in Flint, Michigan (USA), and soil-sourced lead hazard risks. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2016;13(4):358. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Mielke 2006* - Mielke HW, Powell ET, Gonzales CR, Mielke PW. Hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans soils treated with low lead Mississippi River alluvium. Environmental Science & Technology. 2006;40(24):7623-7628. Accessed on January 5, 2017
Mielke 2014 - Mielke HW, Gonzales C, Powell E, Mielke PW. Evolving from reactive to proactive medicine: Community lead (Pb) and clinical disparities in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2014;11(7):7482-7491. Accessed on January 5, 2017
NBER-Wolpaw Reyes 2007 - Wolpaw Reyes J. Environmental policy as social policy? The impact of childhood lead exposure on crime. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). 2007. Working Paper 13097. Accessed on October 26, 2016
NCHH-Jacobs 2009 - Jacobs DE, Baeder A. Housing interventions and health: A review of the evidence. Columbia: National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH); 2009. Accessed on October 26, 2016
NCHH-Lead 2014 - National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). Preventing lead exposure in US children: A blueprint for action. 2014. Accessed on October 26, 2016
Reed 2011a* - Reed W. Preventing childhood lead poisoning. In: Lemelle AJ, Reed W, Taylor S, eds. Handbook of African American Health: Social and Behavioral Interventions. New York: Springer; 2011:103-11. Accessed on October 26, 2016
Schoof 2016 - Schoof RA, Johnson DL, Handziuk ER, et al. Assessment of blood lead level declines in an area of historical mining with a holistic remediation and abatement program. Environmental Research. 2016;150:582-591. Accessed on January 5, 2017
US EPA-Lead hazard training 2004 - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). EPA model lead-based paint abatement worker training course. 2004. Accessed on February 28, 2017
Vigeh 2014* - Vigeh M, Yokoyama K, Matsukawa T, Shinohara A, Ohtani K. Low level prenatal blood lead adversely affects early childhood mental development. Journal of Child Neurology. 2014;29(10):1305-1311. Accessed on October 26, 2016
von Lindern 2016 - von Lindern I, Spalinger S, Stifelman ML, Stanek LW, Bartrem C. Estimating children’s soil/dust ingestion rates through retrospective analyses of blood lead biomonitoring from the bunker hill superfund site in Idaho. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2016;124(9):1462-1470. Accessed on January 5, 2017
White 2015 - White BM, Bonilha HS, Ellis C. Racial/ethnic differences in childhood blood lead levels among children <72 months of age in the United States: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 2015:1-9. Accessed on October 26, 2016
Wolpaw Reyes 2015* - Wolpaw Reyes J. Lead exposure and behavior: Effects on antisocial and risky behavior among children and adolescents. Economic Inquiry. 2015;53(3):1580-1605. Accessed on October 26, 2016

Citations - Implementation

GC-Soil testing - Garden Collage (GC). Get the lead out: How to test your soil for contaminants. Accessed on January 5, 2017
US EPA-Lead contacts - US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Lead: EPA regional lead contacts. Accessed on March 16, 2017
WI DHS-Lead - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS). Where is lead found? Sources of lead exposure in paint and other coatings, in soil, air and water, and in products. Accessed on January 5, 2017

Page Last Updated

January 5, 2017

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