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Lead at Superfund Sites

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What is the issue and why should people care?

Lead contamination at Superfund sites presents a threat to human health and the environment. Lead, a naturally occurring element, can be harmful to humans (particularly children) when ingested or inhaled. Over time, lead has become a common environmental contaminant at Superfund sites across the country. To learn more about the effects of lead poisoning and EPA's role in reducing the presence of lead in the environment, visit EPA's Lead Web page.

What is EPA doing about it?

EPA response actions at Superfund sites address a release or threat of release of a hazardous substance such as lead into the environment. Childhood blood lead (PbB) concentrations at or above 10 micrograms of Pb per deciliter of blood (µg Pb/dL) present risks to children's health. Accordingly, EPA response actions seek to limit the risk that children will have lead concentrations above 10 µg Pb/dL. The Agency’s risk assessments reduce the likelihood that such exposures will occur.

To help in making this determination, the Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) model and the Adult Lead Methodology (ALM) estimate the concentration of lead in the blood of children, pregnant women and their developing fetuses who might be exposed to lead-contaminated soils. The level to which EPA remediates lead contamination at Superfund sites is guided by risk assessors' application of the IEUBK model and the ALM to estimate blood lead concentrations. These findings help EPA estimate possible adverse health effect exposures.

EPA has convened two workgroups to assist in the use of the IEUBK model and the ALM:

The workgroups address risk assessment and risk management issues.

Please refer to the Software and Users' Manuals page as well as the Guidance page for important documents related to the LSW, the TRW, the IEUBK model, the ALM and risk assessment.

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What are others doing about it?

To learn more about the efforts of other federal agencies, states, counties and organizations to prevent lead exposure, visit EPA's Other Lead Links page.

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What can you (as a person or as an organization) do about it?

Education is the key. EPA's Lead Awareness Program designs outreach activities and education materials, awards grants, and manages a toll-free hotline. The hotline helps parents, homeowners and lead professionals learn what they can do to protect their families and themselves from the dangers of lead.

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Other resources to learn more

EPA’s Related Links page provides other resources to learn more.

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Examples of Superfund Site Cleanups

Superfund cleans up contaminated media, such as soil, to protect human health and the environment. Lead can be toxic when ingested or inhaled and blood lead levels can be used as a measure of exposure. Blood lead levels measured before and after cleanup confirm that exposure to lead has been reduced. The process of cleanup and changes in blood lead levels can be better understood by examining site cleanup work.

Below are a few examples of Superfund cleanup actions that show blood lead level reductions among children. At each of these sites, blood lead testing took place before and during cleanup. The table below provides additional information on the cleanups.

Superfund cleanup actions at sites where lead testing was performed
Site Name City State Sources of Contamination
Vasquez Boulevard and I-70 Denver CO Historic smelting operations
Bunker Hill Mining & Metallurgical Complex Smelterville ID Historic mining and smelting operations
(More information on blood lead levels)
Cherokee County Galena KS Historic mining operations
Big River Mine Slag/St. Joe Minerals Corp. Desloge MO Historic mining operations
Madison County Mines Fredericktown MO Historic mining operations
Oronogo-Duenweg Mining Belt Joplin MO Historic mining and smelting operations
(More information on blood lead levels)
East Helena Site East Helena MT Historic smelting operations
Omaha Lead Omaha NE Historic smelting operations
National Zinc Corp. Bartlesville OK Historic smelting operations
Midvale Slag Midvale UT Historic smelting operations
(More information on blood lead levels)
Tar Creek (Ottawa County) Ottawa County OK Historic mining operations
(More information on blood lead levels)
RSR Corporation Dallas TX Historic smelting operations
Eureka Mills Eureka UT Historic mining operations

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