We reviewed the published evidence of lead (Pb) contamination of urban soils, soil Pb risk to children through hand-to-mouth activity, reduction of soil Pb bioavailability due to soil amendments, and methods to assess bioaccessibility which correlate with bioavailability of soil Pb. Feeding tests have shown that urban soils may have much lower Pb bioavailability than previously assumed. Hence bioavailability of soil Pb is the important measure for protection of public health, not total soil Pb. Chemical extraction tests (Pb bioaccessibility) have been developed which are well correlated with the results of bioavailability tests; application of these tests can save money and time compared with feeding tests. Recent findings have revealed that fractional bioaccessibility (bioaccessible compared to total) of Pb in urban soils is only 5-10% of total soil Pb, far lower than the 60% as bioavailable as food-Pb presumed by U.S.-EPA (30% absolute bioavailability used in IEUBK model).
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