Airborne Lead is Exposure Pathway for Poisoning
Although lead use in gasoline has been markedly reduced, previous use has resulted in widespread contamination of soil and dust. Except around point sources, airborne lead is only a minor exposure pathway. However, even minor exposures have the potential for illnesses related to lead poisoning.
For years, the combustion of leaded gasoline by motor vehicles was the predominant source of airborne lead in the United States. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the reduction of almost all lead in gasoline during the 1970s and 1980s, and 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act will completely prohibit the use of lead as a gasoline additive beginning as early as January, 1992 and concluding no later than December 31, 1995. As discussed in the previous section, however, soil and dust contaminated by deposition of lead-containing particles can contain high concentrations of lead.
Except around point sources, like smelters and battery manufacturing plants, inhalation of airborne lead is now a minor exposure pathway for individual children. Other industrial activities may also result in localized exposures to lead, including burning solid waste in incinerators and sandblasting or demolishing bridges and other lead- painted metal structures. These localized activities, however, can be important sources of high-dose exposure.
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