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Lead Pollution in New Orleans

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Whitney Thomas

on 22 November 2013

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Transcript of Lead Pollution in New Orleans

A primary source of lead are houses built before 1978.
Problem arises when D-I-Y home renovators and unlicensed contractors chip away at old paint.
Some local contractors have cheated on the rules, cutting corners because compliance is expensive. Rodgers pointed to a recent $16,000, lead-paint removal project at a house in St. Charles Parish as an example, and said the cost included insurance polices, contractors’ license fees and equipment.
Dec. 2012 - NOLA revised its Lead-Based Paint Removal Form to include more resources and guidelines on safe practices. Contractors and others removing lead paint are required to file it, with the location, scope and dates of their projects. On the form, the city says that occupants of a building that’s being lead-remediated must be notified three days before work starts.

Stronger Enforcement/Updates of Current Regulations

Activist group with critical mission to support awareness and solutions to lead contamination and help end childhood lead poisoning
Technical collaborations with leading geochemists and metals speciation specialists have resulted in the development of a scientific method for urban soil remediation
The Operation Paydirt Treat, Lock and Cover protocol (TLC) has now been used to remediate 150 properties in a model Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program in Oakland, California
Operation Paydirt’s efforts are also behind a HUD funded research project to maximize the transformation of toxic lead in soil in New Orleans

Operation PayDirt

Dr. Mielke has suggested that these findings result from the use of leaded gas in the early 1970s, coupled with less fuel efficient vehicles and larger gas tanks.
The bigger problem: The lasting effects of past lead use
To serve as a solution, Dr. Meilke has suggested enactment of a Clean Soil Act, similar to the Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act.

Lead Mapping Project

The researchers divided their soil mapping data into high and low lead areas. Areas of high soil lead contained 100 mg/kg or greater while low lead areas contained less than 100 mg/kg.
In both the low and high lead areas, samples were collected near four types of locations that represent potential play areas for children in residential communities: busy streets, residential streets, house sides, and open spaces (parks or large yards located away from houses or streets).
RESULTS: The median soil lead levels were highest near busy and residential streets.

Lead Mapping Project

Professor Howard Mielke of Tulane University
Created lead maps for major cities, such as Baltimore
Lead mapping project of the city of New Orleans, with the intent of finding highly contaminated areas which present serious health risks to the city’s residents.
To evaluate the lead exposure of children in New Orleans, Mielke and his team combined their soil mapping data with blood lead databases from the Louisiana Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
This allowed them to see how blood levels in children vary depending on the different types of urban environment’s they’re exposed to in the city and begin creating solutions to reduce the high levels of lead pollution in New Orleans.

Lead Mapping Project

Lead poisoning in children is the result of many environmental sources.
This fact alone creates the necessity of multiple solutions, both regulatory and personal family decisions, in order to reduce this hazard.

Finding A Solution

A new study seems to link lead poisoning to increased criminal behavior, and possibly juvenile delinquency
Research conducted by Southern University Law Center states that when children are exposed to high levels of lead in the environment, it may increase their risk of juvenile delinquency
Lead is typically found in the environment and when a child is frequently in an environment that contains large, possibly toxic levels of lead content, he may be exposed to these toxins
Researchers believe that such exposure over a period of time can actually lead to juvenile delinquency
San Jose criminal defense attorneys find it very concerning that it is not necessary that the exposure involve large amounts of lead
Since lead poisoning involves exposure to just about 10 mcg of lead per deciliter, even exposure to such small quantities of lead may be sufficient to cause lead poisoning
An earlier study from Columbia University found that there was a strong association between exposure during the preschool years and subsequent crime rates
The study also found that reduction of lead exposure levels could help reduce crime rates, and increase rates of on-time high school graduations

Targeting The Problem

Elevated levels of lead in soil was found at a section of Desmare Playground in New Orleans in 2012
The New Orleans Recreational Development Commission and Office of Coastal and Environmental Affairs decided to test the Bayou St. John playground before a community organization did a rebuild project
After the playground is remediated, the city will test the affected areas again before reopening the playground
Karen DeSalvo, the City Health Commissioner, stated the public agencies have moved swiftly in instances where elevated lead levels may exist to ensure public health safety to its kids
Lead in soil is a particular concern for young children who might ingest the soil around the playground

Targeting The Problem

Federal and state laws bar sanding lead-based paint but loopholes in those laws and lax enforcement likely led to the increased lead contamination
An earlier study of lead levels in soil in 2006, soon after Katrina, but before much of the rebuilding, found lead levels lower than they were in a similar study that sampled yard soils between 1998 and 2000
The latest study measured lead levels in dust on bare floors and window sills in 109 households throughout the city, and at the surface of bare soil; places where young children are most likely to get dust on their hands and feet and then into their mouths
New Orleans has had a high number of children with elevated lead levels because of its old housing and historic contamination of lawns from lead in gasoline
A year before Katrina, 13.8% of all children tested in the city had levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter which is considered lead poisoning by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
However, the level in 2009 had fallen to 5.3% and some scientists attribute to sediment washed into the city during Katrina based on soil tests in 2006

Targeting The Problem

Nearly 2/3 of New Orleans homes and yards have “dangerous” levels of lead according to federal standards
The finding authors believe the link may be the extensive renovation and demolition of homes after Hurricane Katrina
Past studies of lead exposure in New Orleans found that children most at risk of elevated blood levels were African-American, from low-income families and living in rental housing
However, the new study found the high levels are not linked to race or income
The study also found that the age of a home is the most relevant factor in whether lead levels on the property are too high
Most of the houses that were surveyed were built before 1946 and lead-based paint was not banned until 1978
The study concludes that New Orleans children are at risk for elevated blood lead levels, including children who were not considered at high risk previously and for whom lead reduction has been considered a public health success

Targeting The Problem

The ultimate effects of lead in children include:
Loss of IQ points
Impairments in language fluency or communication
Memory problems
Trouble paying attention/Lack of concentration
Poor fine-motor skills
Difficulty with planning and organization
Difficulty forming abstract concepts
Poor cognitive flexibility

What are the risks of lead poisoning?

Young children of urban minority families are found to be at the greatest risk of lead poisoning.
According to the most recent NHANES III-Phase 2 report, 8% of children from impoverish families are lead-poisoned, compared to 1% of children from high-income families.
13.7% of non-Hispanic black children (1-5 years old) living in housing built between 1946 and 1973 has blood-lead levels above the CDC’s level of concern. Among all children, 11.2% of African American children are poisoned compared with 2.3% of Caucasian children.
Poor minority families live in some of the nation’s oldest and most dilapidated dwellings, the hazard has been identified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the CDC, and other agencies as the biggest source of lead exposure today.
Economic barriers put these groups at further risks. Parents of low-income families may be unemployed or in jobs that do not offer medical insurance; children of these families go without adequate medical care.
Poor economic conditions also breed poor nutrition; without dietary elements (such as calcium or iron) the body’s absorption of lead will increase.

Children of Color

Recent studies of children with low but elevated blood-levels strongly link lead with decreased intelligence and impaired neurobehavioral development.
A study published in Epidemiology suggests that lead adage to children’s developing brains could make the difference between their being on the low end of normal intelligence and dropping below normal. The study has followed more than 494 infants born in or near the lead smelting town of Port Pirie in Australia. By the age of seven, the visual-motor abilities of most children with relatively low levels of lead (below 20 µp/dL) in their blood were adversely affected; such deficits could hamper a child’s ability to read, write and solve math problems by interfering with brain mechanisms involved in recognizing and copying shapes, visualizing objects in space, and forming nonverbal concepts.
As a result, the risks associated with lead levels can affect how children perform in school and can adversely effect them. Children with lead levels above 20 part per million (ppm) were associated with a higher risk of not graduating from high school and of having a reading disability, as well as deficits in vocabulary, problems with attention and fine motor coordination.

Health Risks in Children

Children are more at risk to the health effects of lead; Children are in double jeopardy from the ill effects of lead, because of their highest potential for exposure occurs when they are the most physiologically susceptible.
One reason for the high exposure potential is behavioral patterns: children engage in more hand-to-mouth activity than adults and so they ingest more contaminants in dust or dirt.
Moreover, a child’s gastrointestinal tract also absorbs lead more readily than does the adult gut.
Though severe lead exposures (blood-lead levels greater than 80 µg/dL) can cause comas, convulsions or death, most recent studies have focused on the effects of lower levels (around 10 µg/dL) which do not cause distinctive symptoms.
Lower blood-lead levels have adverse effects on the central nervous system, kidneys and hematopoietic system (responsible for the production of blood cells and platelets). Other effects includes but are not limited to, decreased stature or growth, decreased hearing acuity, and decreased ability to maintain a steady posture.

Health Risks in Children

Lead paint is a blue-gray metal found naturally in our environment. Exposure is mainly through lead-based paints, contaminated soil, dust and drinking water (lead pipes, soldered pipes).
Because of weathering and time, old lead paint in playground equipment can deteriorate into chips and dust that contain lead.

Lead in Playground Equipment Paint and Surrounding Soil

Neighborhood and school playgrounds are places that kids play, get first and make friends. One would expect playgrounds to be safe and clean environments for children to play. However, too many playgrounds across America have unsafe equipment and are not well-maintained.

Environmental Health Hazards in the Playground

The first major lead-based paint legislation was passed in 1971, the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act (LBPPPA). The Act was amended in 1973. The LBPPPA primarily addressed lead-based paint in federally-funded housing and established definitions for lead-based paint and lead poisoning.
In 1978 the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the residential use of lead-based paint.
In 1987-1988 the LBPPPA was significantly amended. Among the changes was an extensive research and demonstration program and changes to include intact paint in the definition of an immediate hazard.
Up to this point in time, the legislation evolved around the following three concepts:
React - take action when a lead-poisoned child is identified
Test and treat chewable surfaces
Cover defective paint

History of Lead

1887 - US medical authorities diagnose childhood lead poisoning
1914 - Pediatric lead-paint poisoning death from eating crib paint is described
1921 - National Lead Company (USA) admits lead is a poison
1943- Report concludes eating lead paint chips causes physical and neurological disorders, behavior, learning and intelligence problems in children
1971- Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act passed
1971- CDC lowers the limit for a lead poisoned child to 40 micrograms /decilitre (µg/dL)
1975- CDC lowers the limit for a lead poisoned child to 30 µg/dL
1977 – the WHO recommends the tolerable dietary intake of lead as 430 µg/day micrograms/day
1978 – USA bans white lead paint (limit of lead in paint below 0.06%)
1979- association of lead exposure and neuropsychological deficits in children described in the New England Journal of Medicine

History of Lead - Timeline

Lead carbonate (white lead)
white pigment most commonly used in house paint.
Lead Acetate
commonly used in paint, varnish and other coatings.
Lead oxide (red lead)
commonly used as primer on steel to prevent corrosion.
Gray or Blue Lead
commonly used on ships for corrosion control
Lead chromate
commonly used on highways, parking structures, etc.

History of Lead – Types of Lead

In more recent years lead was widely used to extend the protective properties of paints, helped automobiles attain better fuel efficiency, protected occupation ally exposed workers from harmful radiation and provided a suitably dense material for ammunition and fishing weights.
Even though it is no longer used in many of these applications, millions of homes remain painted with lead paint. It's been estimated that approximately 94% of the residential housing in San Francisco was built prior to 1978 and probably has lead-based paint. Lead-based paint chips, as well as soil and household dust contaminated with lead are the primary sources of childhood lead poisoning.

History of Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in nature in the form of ores; it is a heavy, soft, malleable bluish metal. The history of it's use traces back many centuries.
The oldest known lead object was a statue excavated in Turkey and dated somewhere around 6500 B.C. During the Roman Empire, lead was used extensively in many aspects of life; to line vessels that stored water and wine, in utensils, and, in combined form, as a glaze on pottery.

History of Lead

Group Thomas
Whitney Thomas
Jaime Morgan
Shameka Cooper
Tranesia Joseph


Stronger Enforcement
Along with enforcement of the new Lead-Based Paint Removal Form, NOLA is enforcing federal requirements for screening of children who live at sites where renovation has been done.
Unfortunately, there are no outward symptoms clearly indicative of lead poisoning in the vast majority of cases, even those that would require immediate intervention. When poisoned, children can sometimes exhibit a range of nonspecific symptoms -- headaches, stomach aches, cramps, or vomiting.
For these reasons, the testing of blood-lead level is the only diagnostic test for lead exposure
Federal guidelines require blood-lead testing at specified periods for all young children. Lead risk assessments are given at well-baby visits for kids up to six years of age. Results of blood lead tests for children under age six have to be reported to the state’s Lead Prevention Program. And the New Orleans Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program must be notified immediately of any serious lead cases in the parish.
Federal Legislation
Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992
Act provides:
Grants for various testing, maintenance, and abatement, and educational activities
Calls for every federal housing unit to be tested for lead-based paint
All units built prior to 1960 must tested by January 1, 1996
If built between 1960 and 1978
≥25% of units tested by January 1, 1998
≥50% of units tested by January 1, 2000
100% of units tested by 2002
Calls for the establishment of a “task force” whose purpose is to make recommendations regarding expansion of resources to private housing
Title IV Lead Reduction
Sets out plan to research and reduce lead exposure
Subtitle D Research and Development
Defines Housing and Urban Development (HUD) responsibilities

Federal Legislation
Federal Legislations
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (15 U.S.C. Ch. 53 §2610)
Subchapter I. Control of Toxic Substances
Regulation applied to all subchapters
Subchapter IV. Lead Exposure Reduction
Substance specific regulation regarding lead exposure

Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
§ 22 amended to include lead based paint activities in congruence with the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992

24 CFR Part 35
Subpart A outlines the Disclosure of Known Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards Upon Sale or Lease of Residential Property

1. low-level lead poisoning is widespread among American children, afflicting as many as 3,000,000 children under age 6, with minority and low-income communities disproportionately affected;
2. at low levels, lead poisoning in children causes intelligence quotient deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavior problems;
3. pre-1980 American housing stock contains more than 3,000,000 tons of lead in the form of lead-based paint, with the vast majority of homes built before 1950 containing substantial amounts of lead-based paint;
4. the ingestion of household dust containing lead from deteriorating or abraded lead-based paint is the most common cause of lead poisoning in children;
5. the health and development of children living in as many as 3,800,000 American homes is endangered by chipping or peeling lead paint, or excessive amounts of lead-contaminated dust in their homes;
6. the danger posed by lead-based paint hazards can be reduced by abating lead-based paint or by taking interim measures to prevent paint deterioration and limit children's exposure to lead dust and chips;
7. despite the enactment of laws in the early 1970's requiring the Federal Government to eliminate as far as practicable lead-based paint hazards in federally owned, assisted, and insured housing, the Federal response to this national crisis remains severely limited; and
8. the Federal Government must take a leadership role in building the infrastructure -- including an informed public, State and local delivery systems, certified inspectors, contractors, and laboratories, trained workers, and available financing and insurance -- necessary to ensure that the national goal of eliminating lead-based paint hazards in housing can be achieved as expeditiously as possible.

State Legislation
Louisiana Administrative Code
Part III. Air
33 LAC §2801 Lead-Based Paint Activities—Recognition, Accreditation, Licensure, and Standards for Conducting Lead-Based Paint Activities
Part. VI. Remediation.
67 LAC §7119(3)(e) Physical Environment: Physical Appearance and Conditions
The provider shall maintain the grounds of the facility in good condition.
[Playground equipment] shall be so located, installed and maintained as to ensure the safety of residents.
Proposal: for the purpose of this section as provided, could the section be interpreted to include the maintenance of playground equipment painted with lead-based paint? If the law extends to cover maintenance of lead pollution, could the location also be considered a factor if playground is rebuilt. As Congress discovered, lead paint can pollute the soil that it sits above and could potentially pose a threat to children who play in the area who risk inhaling or ingesting lead particles.
Answered in Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992
Definitions: (17) Lead-contaminated soil. The term "lead-contaminated soil" means bare soil on residential real property that contains lead at or in excess of the levels determined to be hazardous to human health by the appropriate Federal agency

TLC Treatment
Developed to address the problem of lead contaminated soil with a sustainable and economically viable method to neutralize hazardous lead contaminated soil by treatment of the soil in place
Alternative to traditional - more costly mitigation measures that involve digging up the contaminated dirt and hauling it off to a landfill
Traditionally, lead contaminated soil is dug up and hauled off to a disposal site, thereby transferring the problem from one community to another
The traditional "dig-and-haul" method of cleaning up lead-contaminated soil is not sustainable because there is not enough landfill capacity in the nation to handle all the soil that exceeds safe levels for lead
TLC Treatment
Lead-contaminated soil will be treated with calcium phosphate (ground up fish bones), neutralized through the formation of complex minerals (pyromorphites) and then covered with three to six inches of clean sediments. Neutralized by calcium phosphate into stable mineral formations, lead is prevented from being absorbed into the bloodstream of children (and adults.)
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