New research reveals legacy of lead from old inner city roads a major source of airborne contamination

Jan 16, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- An international research study published last week in the journal Atmospheric Environment has found that re-suspended roadside soil dust is a major source of atmospheric lead in old inner city areas.

The study was conducted by Macquarie University Mark Laidlaw with Professor Mark Taylor of the University's Department of Environment and Geography, Professor Sammy Zahran of Colorado State University, Professor Howard Mielke of Tulane University and Professor Gabrielle Filippelli of Indiana University.

Roadside soils in older inner-city areas became highly contaminated when lead was used in petrol between about 1923 and 1995 in the US and 1932 and 2002 in Australia, the researchers said.

The study, which looked at four large American cities - Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Birmingham - suggests that automotive traffic turbulence plays a significant role in re-suspension of contaminated roadside soils and dusts. The research revealed that atmospheric soil and lead aerosols were correlated and that atmospheric solid and lead aerosols are about three times higher during weekdays than weekends and Federal Government holidays.

Previous research published in 2009 by Laidlaw and Taylor confirmed that significant lead residues exist in some of Australia's older inner city areas. So, the US findings have potentially significant public health implications for some of Australia's largest cities as well - particularly on children who reside in old inner-city areas, the researchers said.

"These findings suggest that in addition to remediating urban lead where children play, the remediation of lead contaminated soils near older high traffic roadways in the may be another fruitful method of reducing atmospheric lead exposure among inner city children," Laidlaw said.

Laidlaw and Taylor are also calling for screenings to be conducted on children who live in contaminated areas.

"The prevalence of blood lead poisoning in Australian inner children is unknown because unlike the US, blood lead screenings have not been routinely performed here," Taylor said.

"Most people think that the problem has gone away, however we've shown that it does exist in older inner-city areas and now with the latest research, we show that the contamination isn't stable, that it's re-suspended and as a consequence is re-circulated."

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Provided by Macquarie University

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia's inner cities still contaminated with lead

Sep 28, 2010

A research article published this week in the international journal Environmental Pollution contends that large tracts of land in the older inner-city suburbs of Australia’s cities remain contaminated with above-acceptable levels ...

How lead gets into urban vegetable gardens

Nov 01, 2010

One common mitigation approach is to build a raised bed and fill it with freshly composted, low-lead soil from elsewhere, right? Maybe not, according to researchers studying the mysterious case of the lead contamination found ...

Traffic pollution worsens symptoms in asthmatic children

Nov 14, 2008

Traffic pollution, especially in cities, adversely affects respiratory health in children with asthma. A study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Respiratory Research has found that in this vulnerable group, ...

Recommended for you

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Nov 21, 2014

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

Nov 21, 2014

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

Nov 20, 2014

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jan 16, 2012
Troglites are less evolved than stratos dwellers.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.