Online Program

Lead-soil contamination of residential properties adjacent to municipal water towers in Rhode Island

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Marcella Thompson, PhD, MS, CSP, RN, COHN-S, FAAOHN, Superfund Research Program, Brown University, Providence, RI
Purpose. Prior to 1978, the exteriors of Rhode Island's municipal water towers were painted with lead-containing paint. Some of these elevated tanks have not been maintained. Over time, this lead-containing paint either flaked-off or was mechanically removed. As a result, lead may have deposited on adjacent residential properties. Research Questions. What was the distribution of lead-soil contamination found on adjacent residential properties by soil depth and distance from the center of the municipal water towers? How do these results compare to current state and federal regulations? What is the efficacy of current Rhode Island Department of Health lead soil sampling procedures to detect lead-soil contamination? Methods. This case study involved interviewing key government personnel; reviewing written accounts of events as well as current national and state regulations; and extracting, then compiling lead data from environmental soil sampling on 31 residential properties adjacent to six municipal water towers located in Rhode Island. Results. Overall, contamination was inversely related to distance from the tower. While no properties were misclassified with regard to remediation, this analysis indicated the potential for misclassification was approximately 14% using Department of Health sampling criteria. For properties deemed initially “lead free”, the total number of samples was too few to analyze. Five post-remediation lead-soil concentrations suggest the extent of lead contamination may have been deeper than initially determined. Conclusions. Modifications to current soil sampling procedures and congruency across state and federal government regulations were recommended. Additional data would have improved the ability to draw more meaningful and generalized conclusions. While evidence-based practice informs public policy and government regulation, practice-based evidence can confirm and disprove regulatory relevance and efficacy in the context of real world practice.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify two key factors that affect distribution of lead-soil contamination on residential properties. Compare state and federal regulations that address lead-soil contamination. Demonstrate how practice-based evidence can confirm or disprove regulatory relevance and efficacy in the context of real world practice.

Keyword(s): Community Health, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am State Agencies and Community Liaison for Brown University’s Superfund Research Program and Assistant Professor, Adjunct at the College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island. I am board certified as a safety professional (CSP) and as an occupational health nurse specialist (COHN-S). I am a Fellow of the Academy of American Occupational Health Nurses (FAAOHN). I conducted this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.