Can green spaces mitigate lead exposure? A new study aims to find out

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What was once an abandoned lot on the Far East side of Indianapolis is now home to newly planted trees, vegetable beds, and walking paths. The rehabilitated lot is part of a pilot project and research study to determine if remodeling these spaces can mitigate lead exposure.

The study, led by researchers at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, will examine whether newly placed mulch, plants and grasses will reduce the likelihood of interaction with contaminated soil. The researchers periodically took soil samples from the field to test for the presence of lead. The results of this study could determine the locations of future green spaces.

The project is in partnership with the nonprofit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, which has partnered with the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside to establish the green space to complete the majority of the park by year’s end. last.

“In a lot of things like this it’s been discontinued, that doesn’t mean no one has used it at all,” said Jeremy Kranowitz, CEO and President of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. “And in fact, we know that as soon as we made new routes in this plot, the children were cycling there almost immediately.”

Kranowitz said when children played on the court, dust could be thrown into the air and carried home through the bottom of the shoes. Lead-contaminated dust, if inhaled or ingested, can have serious health consequences for children. Lead exposure can in general seriously retard the mental and physical development of children.

“Exposure to environmental contaminants severely affects children’s brain development in many neighborhoods, and this impact is disproportionately seen in low-income communities of color,” said Dr. Gabriel Filippelli, executive director of the IU Environmental Resilience Institute, in a press release.

Sources of lead in soil can include lead-based paint, contamination from manufacturing, and lead-based gasoline, which was widely used until it was introduced.deleted in the 1980s and 1990s.

Concerns about lead exposure in Indiana are not new. A state report 2017-2018 found that 62% of schools had at least one light fixture that contained lead amounts above the federal legal limit. For years, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that states lower the threshold for organisms to respond to high blood lead levels in children. In recent weeks, the Indianapolis-based TV show ‘Good Bones’ has been fined for mishandling lead-based paint at three of his properties.

Because of these concerns, a new law proposes lead testing for all Indiana children under age 6 through their physician.

The study – which will test soil from several batches – is expected to be published in spring 2023.

Contact WFYI reporter Carter Barrett at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @carter_barrett.

Copyright 2022 WFYI Public Radio. To see more, visit WFYI Public Radio.

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