Archives for posts with tag: lead

From Melbourne Florida Today:

Nearly 1,600 children age 5 and younger live close enough to an airport in Brevard County to be at risk from leaded gasoline used by small piston planes and helicopters.

With the release of a new study from Duke University and other research identifying 1 kilometer, about 0.6 miles, as a significant threshold for health risks from lead, FLORIDA TODAY examined local data to gauge the potential lead threat to Space Coast residents. The threat is especially dangerous for young children, who suffer most from exposure to lead.

The newspaper analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Census and Brevard County housing numbers found:

  • About 13,480 homes and 25 schools, including eight elementary schools and seven day care centers are within the at-risk zone of an airport, heliport or private airstrip. Given Brevard’s average of 2.4 residents per household, an estimated 32,350 people live within that threshold distance.
  • Brevard’s 20 aviation facilities emitted 1.3 tons of lead in 2008, the most recent data available. Forty percent, or 1,043 pounds, came from Melbourne International, ranking it 52nd highest for lead emissions among the nation’s 20,000 aviation facilities.
  • 3,500 homes, or about 8,400 people, are within that threshold of Melbourne International Airport.”I’m concerned about it,” said Andrea Cattaneo, a mother of two whose home on Bridle Path in Hacienda Estates is less than a half-mile from Melbourne International. “You get that black dust. I’m constantly washing off my back porch.”

To protect her sons, Nicholas, 6, and Jack, 9, she makes sure to change out her air-conditioning filter regularly to capture any air pollutants from planes. But she still worries how lead and other air pollution might affect her family, especially as the airport expands.

“It’s really in those early years that lead can make an impact on children’s intelligence levels,” said Rebecca Anthopolos, a statistical analyst at Duke who co-authored the study on lead exposure from leaded aviation gasoline published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The researchers found lead-blood levels increase significantly in children who live near an airport.

No level of lead exposure is accepted as safe, according to the EPA, and the agency has found serious health effects at much lower levels in blood than previously thought. The agency is considering a phase-out of lead from general aviation gasoline, called avgas, but has set no timeline.

In May, Friends of the Earth, a California-based environmental group, notified the EPA it plans to sue the agency to force a timeline.

But industry officials say there is no viable substitute for lead as an octane booster. Forcing more expensive alternative fuels too soon could batter a $150 billion industry already in a tailspin from the recession, they say, as well as create safety concerns.

“Engines could literally disintegrate on you,” said Glenn Vera, director of Florida Institute of Technology aviation, which has 54 planes at Melbourne International Airport.

Conservation groups counter that industry and the EPA have delayed for decades and must commit to deadlines for a phaseout. They list Melbourne International among 32 airports nationwide — 13 of them in Florida — that are the worst lead offenders because of high general aviation traffic and proximity to homes, schools and low-income areas.


Image by Boltron.

From Chicago Tribune:

Though Chicago and other cities have long reported that lead levels in their water meet federal standards, regulators and scientists worry testing methods used for two decades could significantly underestimate consumers’ exposure to the toxic metal.

Recent test results in Chicago may back up those fears: High lead levels were found in drinking water in seven of 38 Chicago homes tested by federal regulators this spring, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

“That’s not really good news,” said Marc Edwards, an environmental engineering professor at Virginia Tech who researches lead in water. The testing suggests lead in water could be a “significant human health concern,” he said.

Environmental Protection Agency officials are still analyzing the tests, but the results give credence to concerns voiced by advocates and scientists that lead could be an underestimated health risk in the nation’s drinking water, especially in older cities and suburbs where lead pipe and solder are common.

The results also speak to concerns that utilities can “miss” lead when testing water by using certain permitted techniques, such as flushing pipes the night before samples are taken.

“People don’t really know the extent of the problem,” said Jeffrey Griffiths, a physician who is chairman of a drinking water advisory board for the EPA and a professor of public health and medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Under federal law, local utilities must test water in a relatively small sample of homes. If lead concentrations exceed 15 parts per billion in more than 10 percent of water samples, the utilities must alert residents and try to lower levels. The city of Chicago hasn’t exceeded the lead limit in nearly 20 years.

The allowable amount of lead was set in the 1990s and is based on a level utilities could feasibly meet. It is not a health-based standard, and many health and environment experts think the level allowed is too high.

Experts say there is no safe level of exposure to lead, which has been known to cause diminished IQs in children, even at low levels, and heart attacks and strokes in adults.

“What you really want is zero,” Griffiths said. “Four (parts per billion) is better than 15, but four is still four.”

Water rarely contains lead when it leaves treatment plants, but the heavy metal can leach into water while it sits in or flows through service lines that connect water mains to homes. Pipes and faucets inside homes also can contain lead, as can solder and brass parts used with plumbing materials.

Lead in water doesn’t smell or taste strange, so consumers would likely be alerted to the problem only if they have their water tested or if regulators discover the problem.

To prevent leaching, treatment plants add orthophosphate and other chemicals to water. A chemical reaction causes a white coating to form on the inside of pipes that is meant to stop lead from leaching into the water, but it isn’t always effective.

Water treatment is also complicated. For orthophosphate to protect against lead, the pH of water needs to be within a certain range. But if pH is too high in some water systems, calcium can build up, making valves like those on fire hydrants hard to open.

“You are kind of doing a balancing act,” said Miguel Del Toral, regulations manager for EPA Region 5’s Groundwater and Drinking Branch. “It’s not as simple as just make one change and you are fine.”

If high lead levels persist, a utility may have to replace lead service lines, although recent studies show partial pipe replacements can actually contribute to spikes in lead levels because they disturb lead rust that breaks off or leaches at a higher rate.

In Illinois, 52 water systems have been found to have high lead levels since 2008, according to a Tribune analysis of state records. Last November, New York City alerted residents after 14 percent of samples contained elevated lead levels.

Although the majority of water systems report that homes they test meet federal regulations, some experts think those results are due to outdated testing, government agencies gaming the system, or both.


From KSDK:

A St. Louis City jury awarded $38.5 million to 16 people from Herculaneum who grew up near the town’s lead production plant.

The plaintiffs claimed they were exposed to dangerous lead levels from the smelter between 1986 and 1994. That $38.5 million verdict was for compensatory damages only. At 8 a.m. Friday morning, there will be a hearing about what the amount of the punitive damages should be.


Watch the video after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Washington Post: Lead may be leaching into thousands of D.C. homes.

The water in almost 15,000 D.C. homes that received repairs during a massive effort to remove lead pipes may still be contaminated by dangerous levels of the metal, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If those residences are home to small children, pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system, the water should be tested, said George Hawkins, general manager of D.C. Water.

The CDC concluded that homeowners who had pipes only partially replaced may have made the problem worse. The center also confirmed that children living in the District were exposed to an increased risk of lead poisoning from 2000 to 2006 as an inadvertent result of efforts to disinfect the water supply that caused lead pipes to corrode and leach into the water that flowed through them. More . . .

Discovery Channel: BPA may inhibit pregnancy.

Even as women choose to have babies later in life, more are having trouble conceiving, and the chemical BPA might be partly to blame, suggests a new study.

Mice that were exposed to tiny amounts of the common chemical in the womb and shortly after birth had no problems getting pregnant early in their reproductive lives, the study found. But the animals were less likely to get pregnant as they aged compared to animals that had not been exposed to BPA, and they gave birth to smaller litters as time wore on.

People come in contact with BPA, also known as bisphenol A, through cash register receipts, canned foods and beverages, hard plastic bottles, kitchenware, DVDs and many other sources. Just about all of us have BPA in our bodies, where it can interfere with the action of estrogen and other hormones.

That process, accumulating evidence suggests, might lead to all sorts of negative health consequences, including some cancers, behavioral issues, and developmental problems. More . . .

Agence France-Presse: Working with pesticides linked to dementia, study shows.

Long-term exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to a study released Thursday.

Workers “directly exposed” to bug and weed killers while toiling in the prestigious vineyards of Bordeaux, France were five times more likely to score less well on a battery of neurological tests than those with minimal or no exposure, the study found.

As revealing, this high-exposure group was twice as likely to register a significantly sharp drop in a key test — frequently used to diagnose dementia — repeated four years after the initial examination.

The drop “is particularly striking in view of the short duration of follow up and the relatively young age of the participants,” mostly in their late 40s or 50s, the authors said. More . . .

From Tampa Tribune: Lead in bags, other products result of global economy:

That’s the most likely reason why recent tests commissioned by The Tampa Tribune found elevated lead levels in elaborately decorated grocery bags sold at Winn-Dixie and Publix, according to executives in the promotional merchandise manufacturing industry.

Lead shouldn’t be in paint, and there are better alternatives. But making a newly popular item like reusable bags sometimes involves a dizzying array of subcontracting and handoffs stretching around the globe. And, too often, someone, somewhere will substitute cheaper, dangerous ingredients, like lead, to support their profit margins.

The same problems cropping up with bags echo troubles with other tainted products: Cadmium in drink cups sold at McDonald’s, toxins in household drywall, lead in children’s lunchboxes. Just Friday, the Food and Drug Administration warned of lead in hand-made pottery coming from Mexico.

Toxic metals are a problem that Wayne Greenberg has been warning his industry about for years, and he’s not altogether surprised lead would show up in some reusable bags.

“The whole issue is that there’s a bunch of suppliers who just want to have the cheapest bags,” said Greenberg, former chair of the Promotional Products Association International, and owner of the promotional gear company JB of Florida in Tampa. “They may not mean to increase the lead content … but they don’t know the difference between a 99-cent bag and a $1.29 bag is whether it was tested or not.”

More . . .

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