Long-Term Impacts of Lead

Children Raising Hands

The use of lead-based paint was phased out by the EPA as of 1978. Yet, 34 years later, lead remains on surfaces in many aging homes.

Last month, James wrote about the soon-to-be-implemented Philadelphia ordinance requiring rental units to be certified as “lead free” or “lead safe” (read his post here for more details).

Now, here’s another reason to care about lead exposure in homes. Children exposed to lead tend to do worse in school than kids who are not exposed. A Massachusetts case study shows that the concentration of lead in a child’s bloodstream is linked to their academic performance later in life. The research found that the state’s investment in lead abatement led to improved standardized test scores among elementary school students a decade later.

Add this to the research from 2007 linking childhood lead exposure to crime rates. As a poison that targets the nervous system, lead is shown to negatively impact control impulses in children. People that are exposed as youth are more likely to have juvenile and adult criminal records. Earlier studies focused on the impact of car exhaust during the era of leaded gasoline. Now that we’ve cleaned up the air a bit, the focus has shifted to lead paint, which persists especially in low-income communities.

So, starting in December, does this mean that Philadelphia is on its way to a smarter and less violent city? Let’s hope so. It may not be much of a consolation to landlords facing tighter regulations now. But, hey, maybe it’ll pay off next decade when there are fewer broken windows to repair, and property values are soaring in those safe neighborhoods with high-performing city schools. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic in the comments below, or contact REPSG with any questions about lead exposure and abatement.

Stop Chasing Contamination: DEP Implements Compliance Averaging Guidance

NJDEP SRP LogoOn September 24, 2012 the NJDEP finalized the Technical Guidance for the Attainment of Remediation Standards and Site-Specific Criteria. The new Guidance provides helpful information for applying appropriate remediation criteria and determining compliance. However, the standout piece of information is that compliance averaging, like the use of 95 percent upper confidence limit of the mean (95 UCL) and 75%/10x, can now apply to Sites in New Jersey. These compliance options have been accepted by the PADEP for years, and REPSG has applied these statistical strategies at many Sites in Pennsylvania.


75%/10x is a useful statistical analysis strategy for remediation involving point-source impacts, like underground storage tanks or small spills. As long as the specified number of samples is collected and the analytical results of 75% of those samples are compliant with the remediation standard, the soils under investigation are in compliance. This approach can eliminate the need to chase low-level contamination that can sometimes persist after the removal of a heating oil tank; for example, in the case of benzo(a)pyrene and number 4 fuel oil.

95 UCL is another helpful statistical analysis strategy that can now be utilized at Sites in NJ. This method identifies uniform contamination and estimates the average concentration at the 95 UCL. If the average concentration is below the remediation standard, the associated soils are compliant; even some samples within the dataset have concentrations above the remediation standard.

Do you think that compliance averaging could help speed up remediation at your Site? REPSG can apply our statistical experience to your New Jersey projects. Leave a comment below or please feel free to contact me at jcutright@repsg.com.