The John T. Lewis site (aka Anzon site) is located in the Kensington area of Philadelphia. Lead paint productions operations were conducted at the site from 1849 to 1996 by businesses using various names including, Anzon Inc. and National Lead Company. The site was redeveloped in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. A shopping center is now located on the former facility’s footprint. The investigation area (Figures 1 and 2) for the 2014 childhood blood lead investigation currently consists of residential homes with scattered industrial, commercial, and educational/service facilities.
In July 2014, CDC and ATSDR along with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), conducted a childhood blood lead investigation in selected Philadelphia neighborhoods nearby the former J.T. Lewis facility. The purpose of this neighborhood investigation was to evaluate the relationship between child blood lead levels and water, soil and dust in the child’s household environment.
The study compared the blood lead data from this investigation to CDC’s national health and nutrition examination survey (NHANES). Children living in the investigation area are approximately six times more likely to have blood lead levels equal or above 5 µg/dL compared to the U.S. childhood population. It is important to note, however, that in general children in northeastern U.S. urban areas tend to have higher blood lead levels than their counterparts living in less urban areas. The blood lead data from this investigation are not directly comparable to the City of Philadelphia's blood lead surveillance information, so a city-specific interpretation is not possible at this time.
Analysis of the environmental sampling results from this investigation show that the variables with the most consistent associations with a finding of a higher blood lead level in a child are (1) high lead in dust by the entryway door, and also (2) having any two environmental samples with elevated lead levels in the same household. At this time, it is not possible to identify the source of the lead detected in the environmental samples from the houses that participated in this investigation.
Figure 1. Outline of Census Tracts Included in JT Lewis Childhood Blood Lead Investigation North Philadelphia, PA, July 2014
The JT Lewis facility was one of multiple facilities featured in the USA Today article Ghost Factories: Poison in the Ground, an investigative piece that reported the potential public health impacts of abandoned “lead smelters” (Figure 2). The issue was first described in a 2001 paper published by William P. Eckel in the American Journal of Public Health titled Discovering Unrecognized Lead-Smelting Sites by Historical Methods (AJPH 2001;91(4):625-7.)
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