USC Environmental Health Centers

Current news, events and research projects of the Environmental Health Centers based at USC

NEW RESOURCE: Reduce Lead Exposures at Home

USC Environmental Health

The Get the Lead Out Project has created a new community resources magnet for those residents impacted by soil lead contamination. 

This project is a community-academic collaboration between Dr. Bhavna Shamasunder (Occidental College), mark! Lopez (East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice) and Dr. Jill Johnston (USC), supported by the Robert W. Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program. The project is centered in the communities in East LA which have been unfairly burdened by lead contamination from a nearby lead-acid battery smelter.  The aim is to develop a community action plan to build long-term resilience and health in the face of pervasive soil lead contamination. 

Click here to see graphic: English / Spanish

“It is crucial for community members to know that they are not helpless against the lead contamination. There are steps families can take to minimize further exposure and absorption of lead, especially for pregnant people, kids, and the elderly. Resources like this magnet highlight the efforts we are taking to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.” - Francisca Castro, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at Occidental College and member of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice

One of the major components of this project is to assess community soil lead levels using a participatory science approach and to share those results with the residents to mitigate any potential lead exposures. As such, this magnet was created to increase environmental health literacy around ways residents can reduce their level of exposure and help them make informed decisions about the way they interact with the soil in their homes. With input from all team members, the team developed this resource as something that would be easy to understand and visually appealing to folks.

“Unfortunately because the state is not prioritizing safe cleanup, safety precautions have to be placed into the hands of community members themselves. While the ultimate goal is to have all soil cleaned up, there are some practices folks can do in the meantime that are highlighted in the magnet. Specifically in our communities, infrastructure tends to be older and not always up to code. Some homes, especially in the Boyle Heights area, are subject to lead-contaminated paint, other practices recommended in the magnet are already practiced by community members such as growing in containers. These recommendations help improve existing practices to improve their health.” -Diana Sanchez, GTLO Organizer, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice

EH MATTERS fellow Oscar Reyes supported this collaborative effort to summarize recommendations to reduce lead exposure as communities wait for a comprehensive approach to clean the contaminated soil.

"Exposure to lead can have serious health effects on the human body, especially in the development of children. The communities of East LA have been exposed to lead contamination due to Exide’s operations in the area. Despite clean-up efforts by DTSC, many homes continue to have soil lead concentrations well above 80 ppm, which is the California threshold for soil contamination. The magnet-infographic aims to help inform the residents of best practices to diminish lead exposure in the home, while also providing residents the opportunity to learn more about the Get the Lead Out study and get involved.”- Oscar Reyes, EH MATTERS fellow at USC

To learn more about the Get The Lead Out project, please visit their website.

This infographic was supported in part by:

  • RWJF Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship
  • NIH R25ES031867,
  • P30ES00704.

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