View of Teck Trail from Shavers Bench, Dec. 3. Photo: Sheri Regnier

View of Teck Trail from Shavers Bench, Dec. 3. Photo: Sheri Regnier

Lead levels in Trail children decline a third straight year

THEC released results on the fall lead testing clinic last week

The Trail Health and Environment Committee (THEC) released the latest results from fall lead testing in children – and the results are again promising – meaning the serum concentration of lead in the little ones continues to decline.

Mayor Lisa Pasin, City of Trail, and the THEC chair, says, “I am encouraged to see the 2020 blood lead level has remained below three micrograms per decilitre for a third year in a row. This year, the Trail Area Health and Environment Program committed to reach more families, extending voluntary annual blood lead testing to surrounding areas,” 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.”

Read more: THEC establishes new goals for 2020

Read more: High rate of intestinal disease in Trail compared to rest of B.C.

The results from the 2020 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 2.3 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL).

This is a decrease from the 2019 average of 2.6 µg/dL and 2018 average of 2.9 µg/dL.

Participation rates for this voluntary program remain high, despite uncertainty due to COVID-19.

“I am pleased to note the excellent turn out for the blood lead clinic, despite the challenges of COVID this year,” Dr. Karin Goodison, Interior Health medical health officer noted.

“It is reassuring to see the continued reduction in the blood lead geomean in children from the Trail area. We do continue to see some children with higher levels than we would like and we must continue to strive to further reduce lead exposures for children in the Trail area.”

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

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

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 2020 year-to-date average for lead in community air is 0.08 micrograms per cubic metre, the lowest level to date.

“Our year-to-date 2020 ambient air quality results are again on track to be the lowest annual levels ever recorded,” said Dan Bouillon, manager, environment at Teck Trail Operations.

The annual lead in ambient air measure is a 30 per cent reduction since last year, Bouillon reports adding, “and an 80 per cent reduction since Teck Trail began its comprehensive Fugitive Dust Reduction Program in 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.”

Comparatively, according to the most recent results from Statistics Canada, 100% of Canadians aged 3 to 79 had lead in their blood. In 2017, Canadian children aged 3 to 5 years had blood lead geomean of 0.56 μg/dL.

Still, there is no safe level of lead.

Following US CDC and 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.

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