Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2015 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Kirsten Schwarz
Schwarz, Kirsten
Co-Authors: Richard V. Pouyat Ian Yesilonis

Abstract: Abstract: Understanding the spatial distribution of soil lead has been a focus of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study since its inception in 1997. Through multiple research projects that span spatial scales and use different methodologies we have identified three overarching patterns: 1) soil lead concentrations often exceed state and federal regulatory limits, 2) the variability of soil lead concentrations is high, and 3) despite multiple sources and the highly heterogeneous and patchy nature of soil lead, discernable patterns do exist. Specifically, housing age, the distance to built structures, and the distance to a major roadway are strong predictors of soil lead concentrations. The emergent understanding of soil lead distribution can inform the transition of underutilized urban space into gardens and other desirable land uses while protecting human health. We propose a framework for management that considers three factors: 1) the level of contamination, 2) the desired land use, and 3) the community’s preference in implementing the desired land use. Our goal is that the framework will promote future conversations and policy changes that support consistent and clear regulatory guidelines for soil lead, the lack of which represents a barrier to successfully manage soil contaminated with lead.