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HEALTH CONSULTATION

HAVEN AVENUE LEAD SITE
OCEAN CITY, CAPE MAY COUNTY, NEW JERSEY


DISCUSSION

The soil sampling results indicate that lead is present at elevated levels on residential properties situated along the 600 block of Haven Avenue. The sampling results did not show high levels of lead in samples collected at the primary school, HUD Complex, or the 200 block of Haven Avenue.

Along the 600 Block of Haven Avenue where the contamination was found, lead was detected at levels that pose a threat to residents who may come in contact with the soil. The concern at this site is primarily for children since studies indicate that ingestion and inhalation of lead-contaminated media can contribute to elevated blood lead levels [5]. Blood lead levels in young children have been reported to be raised, on average, about 5 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL) for every 1,000 milligrams of lead per kilogram of soil or dust, and may increase 3 to 5 times higher than the mean response depending on play habits and mouthing behavior [5]. Blood lead levels of 10 ug/dL and above have been associated with adverse health effects such as developmental and hearing impairment, and reductions in intelligence quotient (IQ) in children [5,6].

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated there is sufficient evidence that adverse health effects occur at blood lead levels at least as low as 10 ug/dL in children [5]. Young children and fetuses are especially sensitive to the toxic properties of lead.

Factors accounting for this susceptibility include the following: 1) the blood-brain barrier is incompletely developed in the fetus, which allows entry of lead into the immature nervous system, 2) hand-to-mouth behavior and pica behavior (ingestion of non-food items such as soil), which leads to consumption of lead-contaminated media, 3) enhanced gastrointestinal absorption of lead (affected by the nutritional status of the child), 4) low body weight, and 5) the ready transfer of lead across the placenta to the developing fetus [5]. These factors put children exposed to lead at a much higher risk of developing adverse health effects than adolescents and adults.

Adults are less likely to ingest significant amounts of contaminated soil, and are less sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of lead. However, high doses of lead in adults can affect the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, blood system, and kidneys [6,7]. Adults may be exposed to lead while gardening or engaged in other activities that involve contact with, or incidental ingestion of lead-contaminated soil.

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