The home and garden team from THEP (Trail Health and Environment Program) embarked on an updated residential Lead Dust Study in 2016. (Image: THEP website)

The home and garden team from THEP (Trail Health and Environment Program) embarked on an updated residential Lead Dust Study in 2016. (Image: THEP website)

Lead in house dust drops in Trail

“In general the results of the study are positive,” says Trail Mayor Mike Martin.

The last time a detailed analysis was done on lead dust in Trail homes was almost 20 years ago, or two years after the KIVCET furnace started up in 1997.

A lot has changed at Teck Trail Operations since then, so in 2016, the home and garden team from THEP (Trail Health and Environment Program) embarked on an updated residential Lead Dust Study.

The results – which show a significant decrease in lead concentrations in the 63 homes tested – were presented to the Trail Health and Environment Committee last week.

“The purpose of the study was to obtain up-to-date measures of the accumulations of dust in homes,” explained Trail Mayor Mike Martin, the committee’s chair. “And the amount of lead found in that dust along with identifying factors that may influence lead in indoor dust.”

The complete report is still being prepared, however Martin noted, “Overall, lead dust in outdoor air, indoor air and on entrance mats has decreased.”

Specifically, lead concentrations on floors and entrance mats decreased by 30 per cent; lead concentration in outdoor dust has decreased by 75 per cent; and lead concentration in indoor air has decreased by 40 per cent.

“In general the results of the study are positive,” Martin said. “And show that we have significantly reduced lead in dust in the Trail area.”

The study revealed influencing factors in the amount of lead accumulation found in homes.

Those include the age of the home, as older houses tend to have higher amount of lead dust found within. Another influence is location and prevailing wind directions combined with proximity to the smelter, as well as yard soil. Homes where the yard soil has higher metals content tend to have more lead in dust.

To help combat lead dust in homes, THEP’s home and garden team continues to support the Healthy Homes and soil remediation programs, as well as community greening efforts and street washing.

Martin says the Healthy Homes program has 85 properties queued for testing, 22 properties listed for property remediation, which is the largest number in any given year, and 15 vegetable gardens have been identified for improvement.

Dust management efforts at Teck Trail Operations has greatly contributed to reduced lead concentrations in the community, Martin added.

“Especially their fugitive Dust Reduction Program, which besides the operation of the Smelter Recycle Building, will include measures at the Roaster Pad this summer.”

THEP is currently preparing for the Fall 2018 Blood Lead Clinic in September and this will now include children from Area 1 – Warfield, Waneta, Oasis and Casino.