• Investigation of the Distribution of Lead (Pb) in Soil in Rochester, NY: Correlation with Children’s Blood Lead Levels

      LaGamba, Nicholas; The College at Brockport (2017-10-06)
      Despite the outlawing of both leaded paints and gasoline decades ago, lead poisoning remains a severe health issue, particularly for children aged 5 and under due to their hand-to-mouth tendencies and underdeveloped gastrointestinal tracts. Lead from paint typically only presents itself as an issue when improperly handled in home renovation. Leaded gasoline exhaust settles upon soil and is available for transfer into homes on shoe soles or by physical contact. The chemistry of lead oxides and salts has allowed soil-bound lead compounds to remain relatively inert and immobile in the environment but may be broken down in the human body. Volunteers collected 41 unique soil samples from various locations in the City of Rochester, located in Monroe County, NY, a city with known prevalence of childhood lead poisoning. Soil samples were analyzed for total lead content via ICP-AES, yielding an average concentration of 288 ppm, a value below EPA standards for “residential play areas” (400 ppm) but well above literature suggestions. A prevalence rate for lead poisoning in children ages 5 and under was determined and compared to experimentally determined lead concentrations along with other socioeconomic factors. Several significant correlations emerged, the most important being a strong positive correlation between lead measured in soil and prevalence rate (r = 0.715, p < 0.001). This calculation draws the conclusion that the lead found in Rochester soil unquestionably relates to the instances of childhood lead poisoning, a relationship that numerous literature sources have previously confirmed in other cities. As this experiment only investigated soil, the complex relationship between all sources of lead that residents are exposed to was not investigated, such as lead from water and plumbing or industrial discharge.