Elevated Lead And Arsenic Concentrations
Found In Residential Soil

No Significant Difference Between Whitney Pier, Ashby and North End

Monday, April 7, 2003

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The People's Health Commission (PHC), a project of the Sierra Club of Canada, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, released the results from the lead and arsenic soil and dust study in Sydney Nova Scotia. Household dust was collected in August of 2002. The results show that all three neighborhoods surrounding the Sydney tar ponds, steel and coke ovens site have been significantly affected by the industrial activity over the century.

The lead and arsenic concentrations in the residential soil are above Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment guidelines. Lead and arsenic were found in the floor dust in every home evaluated in Whitney Pier, Ashby and North End. There was not a significant difference between the three communities. The three communities are also contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Dr. Timothy Lambert, chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the PHC, University of Calgary professor and author of the study said: "There is a low but significant health risk from exposure to lead and arsenic in the soil and house dust. With respect to lead, the likelihood that a child may have unacceptable blood lead levels (> 10ug/dL) is 1-15%. All three communities need to be remediated to prevent health impacts from lead and arsenic".

From a public health perspective, residents with young children should monitor their children's play activity to ensure they do not consume soil in their yards.

It is prudent for residents and especially those with very young children to clean their floors on a daily basis, in particular the doorways, to try and prevent exposure to the contaminants.

Dr. Tim Lambert
People's Health Commission