The Trail Health and Environment Committee (THEC) has released the latest results from fall lead testing in local children — and the results are encouraging — meaning the serum concentration of lead in the little ones did not decline, but was similar to 2020 results.
Lisa Pasin, Trail mayor and THEC chair, says, “I appreciate everyone who made an effort to attend this years voluntary children’s blood lead testing clinic despite the challenges families are facing with the pandemic. Average blood lead levels continue to remain below three micrograms per decilitre,” she adds.
“In an effort to further reduce children’s potential exposure to lead and strive toward lower blood lead levels in the future we will continue to review and evolve our programs.”
The results from the 2021 children’s blood lead testing clinic show that the average blood lead level for children aged six months to three years-old in Trail and Rivervale is 2.5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL).
This is similar to the previous three years with an average of 2.3 µg/dL in 2020, 2.6 µg/dL in 2019 and 2.9 µg/dL in 2018.
Of note, is that participation rates for this voluntary program were lower than previous years. The committee says this was due to increased COVID-19 activity as well as back-to-school colds experienced during the scheduled clinic testing dates.
“In recent years we have seen a downward trend, with some possible plateauing of this in 2021,” says Dr. Karin Goodison, Medical Health Officer, Interior Health. “We do continue to see some children with higher levels than we would like and we must continue the collaborative work required to further reduce exposure of children living in the Trail area to environmental lead sources.”
The committee says the program is continuing its efforts to further reduce children’s blood lead levels.
“We strive for continuous improvement working to deliver programs aimed to reduce exposure to lead in the community, and specifically exposure to children.,” THEC collectively states.
The THEC Air Quality Program, managed by Teck Trail Operations, continues to reduce lead in the environment through the comprehensive Fugitive Dust Reduction Program.
The 2021 year-to-date average for lead in community air is 0.07 micrograms per cubic metre, the lowest annual average to date. Comparatively, the 2020 year-to-date average for lead in community air was 0.08 micrograms per cubic metre.
“In 2021 we have focused on embedding operational controls on fugitive emissions across our site and our year-to-date ambient air quality results are on track to match the lowest annual levels ever recorded,” Dan Bouillon, Teck Trail, manager, environment, said. “Teck Trail Operations is committed to continuous improvement through the comprehensive Fugitive Dust Reduction Program, which has realized an 80 per cent reduction in ambient air levels since 2012.”
Children’s blood lead levels in Trail have trended downward and air quality has continually improved in the 20+ years since THEC first began collaborating with the local community, Teck, the B.C. ministry of environment, and Interior Health.
The ongoing decline on the local front shows real progress toward the ultimate goal which is, “no lead is good lead.”
Following BC CDC guidelines, the Trail Area Health and Environment Program follows up with all children who have blood lead levels greater or equal to 5 µg/dL.
Comparatively, in Canada, the current blood lead intervention level is 10 µg/dL. For concentrations at or above this level, actions are recommended to reduce lead exposure. Some studies have found that children may experience health effects with blood lead concentrations below 10 µg/dL.
The Trail Area Health and Environment Program (THEP) — located at 1319 Bay Ave. in downtown Trail — has five main areas of activity: Family Health, Home and Garden, Parks, Property Development, and Air Quality.
The latter, the Air Quality Program, managed by Teck Trail Operations, reduces smelter emissions and makes the largest contribution to achieving health and environment goals.
THEP promotes a healthy environment through a comprehensive integrated program that successfully improves air quality and children’s blood lead levels, and promotes the health of the community.
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