Monday, June 06, 2016

Lead in soil another known factor in Flint

Public Release: 31-Mar-2016
Lead in soil another known factor in Flint
Michigan State University

For years, the city of Flint has been trying to fight another battle with lead...and it lies within the soil.

A new study, involving a Michigan State University researcher, has found that higher rates of Flint children showed elevated lead levels in their blood during drier months of the year, even before the switch to a new water supply. The findings suggest that lead contaminated soil is most likely the culprit especially in the older, more industrial areas of the city.

The research is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

"We have known for a long time that soil lead is an issue," said Rick Sadler, a public health expert in the College of Human Medicine, who has grown up in Flint and is helping the city combat the lead problem through his research. "It's not worse in Flint than in any other older, industrial city. But when you combine the exposure from soil with Flint's water problem, you see a magnification of the effects."

Since 2010, lead blood levels were consistently higher during the months of July, August and September specifically in kids living within the city. In 2014 and 2015, levels rose about 50 percent higher. The city's water supply was switched in 2014.

"This pattern of routinely peaking in the third quarter each year, as it normally does in urban areas, is mainly because of drier weather where there's more dust from contaminated soil in the air," Sadler said. "The bigger increase in 2014 and 2015 reflects the onset of elevated water lead levels."


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