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Non-point source lead contaminated soils

Diffuse loodverontreiniging in de bodem : Advies voor een gemeenschappelijk beleidskader


Lead in soil can be a health risk for residents. In recent years, many cases of soil contamination has cleaned up, but in some neighborhoods of cities the presence of lead in the soil is still an issue. Lead affects children's brain development and is associated with a reduced intelligence quotient score. With regard to lead contaminated soil, it is not possible to indicate the seriousness of this effect for an individual. That depends on the level and frequency of exposure. For reasons of safety, it is important that municipalities and residents take measures to reduce exposure to a level as low as possible.

This emerges from a study by RIVM which brought together the current knowledge about the health risks of lead exposure. The same applies to the causes of soil contamination with lead.

Man has for centuries been exposed to lead. Nowadays the level of exposure is significantly reduced by the use of unleaded petrol and paint, and the replacement of lead water pipes. Small children are exposed to lead from contaminated soil through ingestion of soil particles while playing in the garden or on playgrounds.

For municipalities, it is important that soil quality management aims to reduce lead exposure at locations in cities where the soil is still contaminated by lead. This can be done by redesigning the most polluted areas or to clean up the most polluted spots. This is especially true for places where children tend to play. Possible measures include the application of a clean top layer, a grass cover and sandboxes with clean sand.

For parents it is important to know that with relatively simple measures they can reduce children's exposure to lead. It is advisable to wash children's hands after playing and to vacuum the house regularly.

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