Columbia Study Finds Greenpoint Backyards Have Too Much Lead

Columbia Study Finds Greenpoint Backyards Have Too Much Lead

GREENPOINT – Residential backyards in Greenpoint are dangerously full of lead, according to a study at Columbia University.

Franziska Landes, a graduate student in the university’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences has analyzed 254 samples from 52 backyards in the neighborhood, reports the Earth Institute newsletter, State of the Planet.

So far, the results are cause for consternation: 92% of backyards have a sample that exceeds the EPA’s safety standards.

Some backyards have seven to eight times that amount of lead that they should.

Some theories to the high level include the use of lead paint on old buildings that have been scraped for renovation, pollution from leaded gasoline, or the industrial history of the neighborhood, which may have exposed the soil to all manner of pollutants.

Rates of Children Newly Identified with Elevated Blood Lead Levels (Screenshot via NYC Health report)

It’s not just the soil that’s at risk in Greenpoint, however. Children in Greenpoint are roughly four times more likely to have elevated blood levels than kids in other neighborhoods.

Blood Lead Levels in Children By Neighborhood (Screenshot via NYC Health Report)

While the exact causes remain unclear, there are ways parents and homeowners can protect themselves and their children from lead contamination. Putting down gravel or grass can cover contaminated areas, or landscaping cloth covered by fresh soil.

Parents are warned to supervise play in their backyards and make sure kids aren’t putting their hands in their mouths after touching the soil. Efforts should be made not to track the dirt in the house either.

If any homeowner is concerned, about either planting a garden or letting children play, the first step, of course, is to get tested: the Brooklyn College Soil Lab can easily take care of that.


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