Modeling to Predict High Pb Areas

  • Kirsten SchwarzEmail author


In many older US cities, the amount of lead in soil is elevated well beyond natural background levels (Zhai et al. 2003; Mielke et al. 2004; Wong et al. 2006). Lead is naturally present in very low levels in soil; however, soil lead in cities is a legacy pollutant – one that has persisted in landscapes long after historic inputs have been reduced. Although still present in some consumer products, lead was phased out of two major anthropogenic sources, lead-based paint and leaded gasoline, in the 1970s and 1980s (Kerr and Newell 2003). Lead’s many useful properties – soft, malleable, and stable – made it a candidate for industrial additives. Lead was added to paint as a pigment and to make it more durable and to gasoline to reduce engine knocking caused by the incomplete combustion of fuel. Once released into the environment, lead persists for a very long time. Lead particles released in car exhaust and chipping, peeling old paint can bind to soil, where they remain – sometimes for centuries (Reiners et al. 1975; Smith and Siccama 1981). This is why lead, a legacy pollutant, is still considered a contemporary public health concern – new inputs have been curtailed but legacy lead remains. Soil lead is quite ubiquitous in the urban environment, dispersed along road networks through the combustion of leaded gasoline and surrounding a large proportion of our nation’s older housing stock through the application of lead-based paint. In addition, soil lead can continue to be redistributed through the urban environment with the air-and water-borne transport of soil particles.


Land Cover Blood Lead Level Housing Stock Urban Land Cover Land Cover Feature 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological SciencesNorthern Kentucky UniversityHighland HeightsUSA

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