Spatial Analysis of Bioavailable Soil Lead Concentrations in Los Angeles, California

Environmental ResearchEnvironmental Research, May 2010, 110 (4)

Wu J, Edwards R, He XE, Liu Z, and Kleinman M

“Lead (Pb) poisoning causes permanent neurologic and developmental disorders and remains an important environmental health problem for US children, despite removal of Pb from gasoline and household paints. To better understand the contribution of Pb from historical traffic and residential Pb based paint to soil Pb concentrations in Los Angeles, we analyzed 550 soil Pb samples from south central Los Angeles County, CA, in relation to land-use patterns (commercial, industrial, residential, and parks and open areas) and proximity to freeways, highways, and major arterials. House age variables (surrogates of historical Pb-based paint) and traffic index variables (surrogates of historical traffic) were created at different buffer distances (10-5000m). Total and bioavailable Pb concentrations near freeways and major arterials were significantly higher than those collected elsewhere. Total and bioavailable Pb concentrations were highly correlated (r=0.96) after the removal of one outlier. Both parcel-age related variables and traffic variables were important predictors of current soil bioavailable Pb concentrations. Average age of parcels within 30m and length of small streets within 3000m explained 57% and 38% of the variance, respectively, in soil bioavailable Pb concentrations in residential areas away from freeways and major arterials (N=44). Road length of freeways within 750m explained 28% of bioavailable Pb concentrations in parks and open areas (N=26). Multi-variable regression models predicted 16-61% of the variances in bioavailable Pb concentrations, depending on land-use type and spatial relationship to roadways. Based on these models a map of spatial distributions of soil Pb concentrations was created for the Los Angeles area that shows promise as a screening tool to evaluate continued Pb poisoning in children.”