Lead levels in children have stabilized this year, that’s good news from the Trail Health and Environment Committee (THEC).
“Results for 2016, with an average of 4.3 micrograms per decilitre (ug/dL), are similar to the last two years and equal to the lowest levels recorded to date,” explains committee chair, Trail Mayor Mike Martin. “(This is) lower than last year where there was an average of 4.5 ug/dL.”
Even better, those results are expected to drop next year and over time as the Teck Fugitive Dust Reduction Program swings into full mode and families continue to access services like Healthy Families Healthy Homes and lead safe renovation support.
“There is a strong correlation between lead in community air significantly influencing blood lead values,” Martin said, noting this August, lead in air was lower than 2015.
“The Teck Fugitive Dust Reduction Program offers the greatest opportunity to further reduce emissions to achieve the THEC goals for children’s blood lead levels and air quality,” he added. “The greatest benefits of this program are yet to be realized as the smelter recycle building, which was recently completed, is anticipated to significantly reduce fugitive dust for 2017 and beyond.”
Dan Bouillon,Manager,Environment at Teck Trail Operations says: “Teck is committed to continuing to reduce lead emissions and meeting the THEC’s air quality goals. We have made significant reductions in air emissions in past years and are further reducing emissions through the Fugitive Dust Reduction Program, a multi‐year effort to continue to improve community air quality,which includes the new Smelter Recycle Building,” he added. “We have also initiated further dust suppression actions within our operations, and will continue to implement new air quality improvements in the future.”
Additionally, programs for soil testing and remediation as well as in-home consultations and follow up with young families, are having an impact in reducing overall exposure to lead.
“There has been a significant improvement in children’s blood lead levels over the past 20 years,” Martin concluded. “And Trail is among the world’s leading smelting communities in terms of low lead emissions and blood lead levels.”
This year, 106 children ages six months to three years living in Trail or Rivervale were part of the program’s voluntary blood lead testing.
In other timely news, a recent community consultation about proposed lead level targets for 2020 is currently under review.
Details are not yet available, but Martin says participation appears to be equivalent to the last public consultation process held in 2010.
Giving locals a say, before committing to a five-year target, is a key mandate for the program.
“The Trail Health and Environment Program is a community partnership with the community itself as a key stakeholder in the process; it always has been,” Martin said. “At the end of the day, THEP and the programs within it must meet the approval of the community. Community leadership and participation is enshrined in the organization of THEC, and is reinforced through ongoing outreach, engagement and consultation.”