Trail Times file photo

Lead levels down in Trail, air quality up

Fall lead testing results revealed at THEC’s April 17 meeting at Trail City Hall

Lead levels in young children continue to drop in the Trail area, according to the latest clinical analyses.

“Our 2018 blood lead level results are the lowest to date for our community-wide average,” said Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin, chair of the Trail Area Health and Environment Committee (THEC).

“With the support of the community and through the comprehensive Trail Area Health and Environment Program, we have reached another landmark with a blood lead level under 3.0 (micrograms per decilitre). Teck Trail Operations’ continued investments in reducing fugitive dust emissions provides the greatest opportunity to further reduce lead levels in our community,” she said.

“In combination with our other programs such as soil testing and remediation, Healthy Families Healthy Homes, and lead safe renovation support, we are on course to achieve even lower blood lead levels in the future.”

Read more: THEC establishes new goals for 2020

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Testing completed in the 2018 fall clinic revealed the average blood lead level for children aged six to 36 months in Trail and Rivervale is 2.9 micrograms per decilitre (μg/dL).

This is a decrease from the 2017 average of 4 μg/dL.

(Comparably, the national average of lead levels in young children aged three to five years, is below 1.0 μg/dL, according to Statistics Canada.)

“The THEC is continuing its efforts to further reduce children’s blood lead levels and is encouraged by the decline,” the group collectively stated in a Thursday media release.

“We strive for continuous improvement working to deliver programs aimed to reduce exposure to lead in the community, and specifically exposure to children.”

Notably, the Air Quality Program, managed by Teck Trail Operations, reduces smelter emissions and makes the largest contribution to achieving health and environment goals.

The annual average lead in community air was 0.13 micrograms per cubic metre last year, which is a 47 per cent decrease since 2016.

This achieves and exceeds the THEC 2018 air quality goal of 0.2 micrograms per cubic metre.

“In recent years, major investments and operational improvements have been made to further reduce emissions from Teck Trail Operations, resulting in improved air quality,” said Dan Bouillon, manager, Environment Teck Trail Operations.

“Our 2018 results show a significant reduction in our air emissions, and the lowest level ever for lead in community air. Our fugitive dust reduction program is having a positive impact and we are focused on continuous improvement going forward.”

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.”

“We are pleased to see a reduction in the blood lead geomean for children in the Trail area,” said Dr. Karin Goodison, Medical Health Officer, Interior Health.

“Even low levels of blood lead are associated with negative impacts on children’s health, so we will continue to work with THEC with the goal of further reducing exposure to lead and other environmental contaminants in the community.”

THEC is a subcommittee of Trail city council that oversees the community-led and results-driven Trail Area Health Program. The ultimate goals are to lower exposure, lower health risks and support a healthier environment through five main areas of activity: Family Health, Home and Garden, Air Quality, Parks and Wildlands, and Property Development.

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