Human geography of New Orleans’ high-lead geochemical setting
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Previous soil lead studies in New Orleans focused on the geochemical footprint and its health impacts. This study examines the human geography of race, income, and age in pre-Katrina metropolitan New Orleans within the context of lead accumulation in soils. Sample points of soil lead data (n = 5,467) collected in 1998–2000 were mapped in a geographic information system (GIS), binned into 9 ranges, and queried by (1) 2000 Census racial demographic data, (2) 1999 median household income, and (3) 2000 age data. The absolute population generally declines as lead levels increase except at lead levels from 200–400 to 400–1,000 mg/kg when population increases; the African–American population comprises a disproportionate share of this cohort. The high-lead areas occur in the inner city, home to the largest populations of African-Americans in New Orleans. The mean household income curve indicates that lower economic groups are at risk to higher levels of lead. A total of 44,701 children under the age of 5 years, plus 123,579 children aged 5–17, lived in census block groups containing at least one sample point with over 100 mg/kg lead, and these include 23,124 and 64,064 young people, respectively, who live near at least one point over 400 mg/kg. Lead exposure affects a panoply of outcomes that influence the health and welfare of the community. Unless corrected, children are likely to return to the same or, because of lack of lead-safe practices during renovation, even higher exposure risks than before the flooding of New Orleans.
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About this Article
- Human geography of New Orleans’ high-lead geochemical setting
Environmental Geochemistry and Health
Volume 30, Issue 6 , pp 531-540
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
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- Environmental justice
- Health disparities
- Lead exposure
- Lead poisoning
- New Orleans
- Soil contamination
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Center for Bioenvironmental Research/Earth and Environmental Sciences, 102E Alcee Fortier Hall, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 70118, USA
- 2. Department of Chemistry, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 70118, USA
- 3. Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier Universities, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA, 70112, USA