Background: Compared with a maximum collective lead (Pb) estimate of ∼1811 metric tons (MT) in exterior paint on 86,000 New Orleans houses, Pb additives in gasoline were estimated at ∼12,000 MT in New Orleans, yielding ∼9100 MT Pb exhausted as aerosols from vehicles; ∼4850 MT were particles>10 μm and ∼4200 MT were particles <0.25 μm.
Objectives: To evaluate pre-Hurricane Katrina soil Pb and children's blood Pb at public housing and private residential properties in the inner-city compared with the outer city of New Orleans.
Methods: This study includes 224 soil samples from 10 public housing properties and 363 soil samples from residential private properties within an 800 m radius of centroids of public housing census tracts. The Louisiana Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program data from 2000 to 2005 (pre-Hurricane Katrina) was the source for 9807 children's blood Pb (μg/dL) results. Soil and blood Pb data were grouped by public housing census tracts and private residential properties. This study uses Multi-Response Permutation Procedures for statistical analysis.
Results: Brick public properties in the city core had significantly more soil Pb contamination and higher prevalence of elevated children's blood Pb than same-aged brick public properties in the outer areas of the city. The pre-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans concentration of Pb dust in the inner-city soil displayed a median of 438 mg/kg or 3.7 times larger than Pb dust in outlying areas where the median soil Pb was 117 mg/kg (p-value=2.9×10(-15)). Also, the pre-Hurricane Katrina prevalence of children's blood Pb≥10 μg/dL was 22.9% within the inner-city compared with 9.1% in the outer areas of New Orleans (p-value=3.4×10(-74)).
Conclusions: Comparing the quantities of Pb dust from paint and Pb additives to gasoline, this study supports the later source as a more plausible explanation for the differences in soil Pb and children's blood Pb within public and private housing in the higher traffic congested inner-city core compared with the lower traffic congested outer areas of New Orleans. Similar patterns of environmental Pb dust contamination and childhood Pb exposure are expected in all cities.
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