Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Estimating Children's Soil/dust Ingestion Rates through Retrospective Analyses of Blood Lead Biomonitoring from the Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Estimating Children's Soil/dust Ingestion Rates through Retrospective Analyses of Blood Lead Biomonitoring from the Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho

Article excerpt


Ingestion Rate Background

Consumption of fine soil and dust particulates, especially by young children, is the dominant route of exposure for lead and other contaminants (Laidlaw et al. 2014; Landrigan et al. 1975; Lanphear et al. 1998, 2003). Childhood soil and dust ingestion occurs via multiple pathways, including hand-to-mouth transfer, mouthing of objects, and contaminated food. These pathways are dependent on individual behaviors, exposure time, and environmental conditions (Zahran et al. 2013a). Accurate estimates of the soil and household dust ingestion rate (IR) pathway are needed to assess children's exposures and health risks associated with trace metals and persistent organic chemical residues in the home or play environment, and to make informed cleanup decisions.

Early estimates of soil/dust IRs in children were based on studies of trace elements in soil and feces, yielding uncertain estimates due to analytical uncertainty, limited sample size, and short study duration (Batelle 2005; Doyle et al. 2010; Sedman and Mahmood 1994; Stanek et al. 2012; U.S. EPA 2011, 2012). Currently, national U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) central tendency soil/dust IRs of 60 mg/day (children 6 weeks to < 12 months of age) and 100 mg/day (children 1 to < 6 years of age) are based on these tracer studies (U.S. EPA 2011). More recent studies have used dermal transfer to estimate soil and dust IRs. Ozkaynak et al. (2011) modeled the frequency of hand and object mouthing in children 3 years to < 6 years of age, resulting in a mean total soil/dust IR of 68 mg/day (95th percentile: 224 mg/day). Similarly, Wilson et al. (2013) used a mechanistic model including parameters for particle loading on skin, transfer to hands, hand surface area, mouthing surface area, hand-to-mouth frequency, saliva dissolution, and exposure time, to estimate an average combined soil/dust IR of 61 mg/day for children 7 months to 4 years of age. Meta-analysis of four major studies using stochastic modeling of the most reliable tracers resulted in an average soil ingestion estimate of 26 mg/day (95 th percentile: 79 mg/day) for children 1-8 years of age (Stanek et al. 2012). Findings from large-scale reviews and integration of data from tracer, mechanistic, validation modeling/measurement, and empirical relation (biomonitoring/environmental concentration) studies suggest that mean IRs in children are < 100 mg/day and may be as low as 40-80 mg/day (Bierkens et al. 2011; Moya and Phillips 2014).

Soil/dust IR and bioavailability are sensitive parameters in the U.S. EPA Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) Model for Lead in Children. The IEUBK model currently uses default IRs ranging from 85 to 135 mg/day for 6-month- to 6-year-old children and 30% absolute bioavailability for ingested soil and indoor dust (U.S. EPA 2013). The first use of the IEUBK model to develop site-specific cleanup levels was at the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund Site (BHSS) in northern Idaho (CH2M Hill 1991; TerraGraphics 1990; U.S. EPA and IDHW 1991, 1992). The dose-response relationship observed between soil, dust, and blood lead levels (BLLs) was consistently lower at the BHSS than IEUBK model predictions using the default parameters (TerraGraphics 1990; von Lindern et al. 2003b). This was nominally attributed to lower soil/dust bioavailability (18%), although it was acknowledged that the reduced dose response was likely a combination of lower bioavailability and IRs (von Lindern et al. 2003b).

BHSS Background

In 1974, soon after the lead smelter operators bypassed emission controls destroyed by a baghouse fire, > 95% of children 1-9 years of age living within 3 mi of the smelter had BLLs exceeding 40 pg/dL (Yankel et al. 1977). Lead health interventions have been ongoing since that time. The smelter closed in 1981 and remediation began in 1986, representing one of the world's largest, most comprehensive, and well-documented lead health response cleanups (U. …

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