March 18, 1995 in Idaho

Lead Cleanup Helping Kids; Pet Cleanup May Also Help

From Staff Reports

The latest study on lead exposure proves one thing, according to Jerry Cobb of Panhandle Health District:

Basically, no news is good news.

Replacing leaded yards with clean soil helps to protect the children who live there, the study confirms.

“It confirms that what we’re doing is worth doing. If they’d found out something else, we’d be in big trouble,” Cobb said. He has coordinated blood lead screenings at the Bunker Hill Superfund Site for the past 20 years.

The study, performed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, was begun in 1992, when mean blood lead levels increased slightly for some reason. Its purpose was to determine risk factors for elevated blood lead levels in Silver Valley children.

Six risk factors were studied: mouthing behaviors (such as thumb-sucking), handwashing habits, outdoor activities, remediation activities, lead levels in house dust, and the activities of other household members.

Besides confirming the value of the residential soil replacement program, the conclusions mentioned one other thing: Pets going in and out of the house seem to contribute to risk. It recommends washing pets often, washing hands after playing with pets, and restricting pet movement.

The study is available at the Superfund Project Office in Kellogg. ATSDR is accepting public comment about it until April 15.

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