Teck Trail Operations continues to reduce lead in the environment through its Fugitive Dust Reduction Program. (Trail Times file photo)

Lead levels in Trail children are lowest to date

THEC met on Tuesday to discuss the latest results from lead testing clinic

After meeting last Tuesday to review outcomes from the children’s lead testing clinic held on six dates in September, the Trail Health and Environment Committee (THEC) has some positive news to share.

Previous: Lead exposure on downward trend in Trail

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Previous: Soil remediation in high gear

In short, of the 112 children tested, overall results are the lowest to date.

The average blood lead level for children ages six to 36 months is now 2.6 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL).

This is a decrease from the 2018 average of 2.9 µg/dL.

As well, there continues to be a very high participation rate for this voluntary program, which tests children living in Trail and Rivervale.

“I am encouraged to see the 2019 blood lead level has remained below three micrograms per decilitre for a second year in a row,” says committee chair Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin.

“This year, the Trail Area Health and Environment Program committed to reach more families, including an increased focus on soil testing and yard remediation. A recent community survey showed overwhelming support for this expanded work,” she said.

“As blood lead levels decrease in our community, we continue to review and evolve our programs to further reduce children’s potential exposure to lead and strive toward lower blood lead levels in the future.”

The committee is continuing its efforts to further reduce children’s blood lead levels and is encouraged by the decline.

THEC says it strives for continuous improvement working to deliver programs aimed to reduce exposure to lead in the community, and specifically exposure to children.

“The 2019 blood lead geomean is similar to that seen in 2018 and confirms a decrease in blood lead levels from previous years,” says Dr. Karin Goodison, a medical health officer who sits on the committee for 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.”

Also surfacing at the Nov. 26 meeting, was the most recent data regarding ambient lead levels.

The 2019 year-to-date average for lead in community air is 0.12 micrograms per cubic metre, which is the lowest to date.

“Teck Trail Operations’ ongoing focus on our comprehensive dust reduction program continues to reduce lead in the community,” says Dan Bouillon, from Teck Trail Operations.

“In recent years, major investments and operational improvements have been made to reduce emissions from Teck Trail Operations. Our year-to-date 2019 ambient air quality results are on track to be the lowest annual measures ever recorded.”

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.”

Comparatively, according to the most recent results from Statistics Canada, 100% of Canadians aged 3 to 79 had lead in their blood; however, almost all of the Canadian population had blood lead levels lower than the current blood lead intervention level of 10 µg/dL. Canadian children aged 3 to 5 years had blood lead levels of 0.93 µg/dL.

The Trail Area Health & Environment Program (THEP) has five main areas of activity: Family Health, Home & Garden, Air Quality, Parks and Wildlands, and Property Development.

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.

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 Air Quality Program reduces smelter emissions and makes the largest contribution to achieving health and environment goals.


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