Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 2785–2793 | Cite as

Estimates of potential childhood lead exposure from contaminated soil using the USEPA IEUBK model in Melbourne, Australia

  • Mark A. S. Laidlaw
  • Callum Gordon
  • Mark. P. Taylor
  • Andrew S. Ball
Original Paper


Soils in inner city areas internationally and in Australia have been contaminated with lead (Pb) primarily from past emissions of Pb in petrol, deteriorating exterior Pb-based paints and from industry. Children can be exposed to Pb in soil dust through ingestion and inhalation leading to elevated blood lead levels (BLLs). Currently, the contribution of soil Pb to the spatial distribution of children’s BLLs is unknown in the Melbourne metropolitan area. In this study, children’s potential BLLs were estimated from surface soil (0–2 cm) samples collected at 250 locations across the Melbourne metropolitan area using the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) model. A dataset of 250 surface soil Pb concentrations indicate that soil Pb concentrations are highly variable but are generally elevated in the central and western portions of the Melbourne metropolitan area. The mean, median and geometric soil Pb concentrations were 193, 110 and 108 mg/kg, respectively. Approximately 20 and 4% of the soil samples exceeded the Australian HIL-A residential and HIL-C recreational soil Pb guidelines of 300 and 600 mg/kg, respectively. The IEUBK model predicted a geometric mean BLL of 2.5 ± 2.1 µg/dL (range: 1.3–22.5 µg/dL) in a hypothetical 24-month-old child with BLLs exceeding 5 and 10 µg/dL at 11.6 and 0.8% of the sampling locations, respectively. This study suggests children’s exposure to Pb contaminated surface soil could potentially be associated with low-level BLLs in some locations in the Melbourne metropolitan area.


Blood Model Prediction Contamination Urban 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Remediation (EnSuRe)RMIT UniversityBundooraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and EngineeringMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.SydneyAustralia

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