Get the Lead Out


In 1991, Faubourg St. John neighbor Dr. Howard Mielke was interviewed about lead levels in the soil around residential homes. The City of New Orleans is testing public playgrounds and found high lead levels in Desmare Playground. The area is being remediated.

Dr. Howard Mielke is a professor of toxicology in the Department of Pharmacology, Tulane University School of Medicine.

Dr. Howard Mielke says, ” Young children are amazingly sensitive to lead exposure. Compared to yards and play areas around houses, parks are generally much safer places to play. Unsafe soil lead has been identified in 13 parks and most recently Desmare. Our city only has limited funds to do the interventions and given that limitation, identifying and intervening on Desmare is a major step forward. Intervention is being done on the area nearest Esplanade. The contaminated soil is probably a legacy from the use of lead additives in gasoline because the lead deposition is largest near the road and decreases rapidly with increasing distance from the road. This is a national problem that has not been vetted in the same way that air and water quality have been vetted (clean water and air acts). Desmare will be safer for children after the project is done. Acknowledging the problem is a major advancement for New Orleans and it puts our city on track for improving prospects for future citizens.”

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “Exposure to lead can have a wide range of effects on a child’s development and behavior. Even when exposed to small amounts of lead levels, children may appear inattentive, hyperactive and irritable. Children with greater lead levels may also have problems with learning and reading, delayed growth and hearing loss. At high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death.” Please visit the links below for more information:

http://www.agiweb.org/geotimes/may05/feature_leadlegacy.html

http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/lead_exposure_in_children_affects_brain_and_behavior

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