Estimates of potential childhood lead exposure from contaminated soil using the US EPA IEUBK Model in Sydney, Australia

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Abstract

Surface soils in portions of the Sydney (New South Wales, Australia) urban area are contaminated with lead (Pb) primarily from past use of Pb in gasoline, the deterioration of exterior lead-based paints, and industrial activities. Surface soil samples (n=341) were collected from a depth of 0–2.5 cm at a density of approximately one sample per square kilometre within the Sydney estuary catchment and analysed for lead. The bioaccessibility of soil Pb was analysed in 18 samples. The blood lead level (BLL) of a hypothetical 24 month old child was predicted at soil sampling sites in residential and open land use using the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Integrated Exposure Uptake and Biokinetic (IEUBK) model. Other environmental exposures used the Australian National Environmental Protection Measure (NEPM) default values. The IEUBK model predicted a geometric mean BLL of 2.0±2.1 μg/dL using measured soil lead bioavailability measurements (bioavailability =34%) and 2.4±2.8 μg/dL using the Australian NEPM default assumption (bioavailability =50%). Assuming children were present and residing at the sampling locations, the IEUBK model incorporating soil Pb bioavailability predicted that 5.6% of the children at the sampling locations could potentially have BLLs exceeding 5 μg/dL and 2.1% potentially could have BLLs exceeding 10 μg/dL. These estimations are consistent with BLLs previously measured in children in Sydney.

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