In the late 1970s, 88% of American children between the ages of one to five had blood lead concentrations above levels that health experts now consider safe. In the United States, exposures to lead have resulted from flaking and chalking lead-based paint, drinking water contaminated by lead pipes and fixtures, and air pollution from leaded gasoline and other sources.
Research on exposures and the effects of lead formed the basis for government actions such as the ban on the use of lead house paint, lead-soldered cans, and the phasing down of lead additives in gasoline. As a result, the amount of lead in the average American's bloodstream fell more than 75% over the past 15 years, and only 8.9% of American children now have blood lead levels that are considered hazardous.
The challenge today is to address residual lead risks for people, particularly children, who live in low-income housing with lead paint hazards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Centers for Disease Control have a coordinated strategy to address these risks.
Cooperative research between federal
research laboratories and private industry has
successfully developed other new technologies.
The Petroleum Environmental Research Forum,
for example, has demonstrated that certain
nutrients will greatly increase the breakdown of
toxic chemicals by microbes indigenous to some
soils. This research shows that the microbes
nourished in a specific area form a biological
barrier, or microbial filter, and convert
contaminants into clean water and carbon dioxide.
This technology can be used to clean up oil spills
from underground storage tanks. The breakdown
of such compounds in situ, opposed to having to
be removed from the site, provides a far more
cost-effective cleanup method.
Environment and Natural Resources - Table of Contents
Research Successes - Ecosystem Research
Research Successes - Observation & Data Management
Research Successes - Biodiversity
Research Successes - Environmental Technology
Research Successes - Global Change
Research Successes - Natural Disaster Reduction
Research Successes - Environmental Change
Research Successes - Forest Research
Research Successes - Air Quality
Research Successes - Lead Levels
Research Successes - Science Policy Tools
Research Successes - Water Resources
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