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Metal Pollution Roundup

September 5, 2008

Lead dust continues to pose a health risk for decades after it was banned from gasoline and paint.


Keeping a lid on heavy metals. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When lead paint was discovered on toys imported from China, the story made headlines coast to coast. But decades of using lead paint and leaded gasoline has made the metal ubiquitous in the dirt around old buildings, city lots and even playgrounds. An article in the journal Applied Geochemistry looked at how children playing in the dirt inhale and ingest the lead, and recommended new efforts to fight the problem. These range from hauling the dirt away to planting more grass to simply wetting the soil when it gets too dry, thereby cutting down on the dust.

In other heavy metal news, University of Michigan researchers say cadmium is a leading cause of emphysema and other lung diseases. The metal is found in cigarette smoke, and also can get into foods through contaminated fertilizer and landfill. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.