Research on absorption of lead through animal surrogates in urban areas

The Wayne State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is conducting research on the absorption mechanisms of lead through animal surrogates in urban areas. Researches have found a correlation between the levels of lead in soil and the levels of lead in earthworms. This conclusion shows high soil-lead contamination can mean high levels of lead in the human blood stream. Lead poisoning can cause profound health problems, including developmental and neurological impairment, such as reduced IQ and attention span, hyperactivity, impaired growth, learning disabilities, hearing lossĀ and insomnia.

This study is taking place in two urban areas: Maracaibo, Venezuela and Detroit, Michigan, both places that have historically had high exposures to lead. The major sources of lead contamination are lead-based paint (in houses built prior to 1978), lead from auto emissions, and lead from various industrial sources. Isotopic analysis, providing additional clarity, has been performed in soil samples to determine the source of lead contamination in the area that will increase understanding of exposure levels in similar areas.