Lead (Pb) legacy from vehicle traffic in eight California urbanized areas: continuing influence of lead dust on children's health

Howard W. Mielke, Mark A. S. Laidlaw, Chris Gonzales

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    108 Citations (Scopus)


    This article describes the magnitude of U.S. lead (Pb) additives in gasoline from 1927 to 1994 and estimated quantities of Pb dispersed by vehicle traffic in eight urbanized areas (UAs) of California from 1950 to 1982. The findings are the basis for predicting the health impact of Pb on children living in UA of California. Quantitative U.S. national data for 1927–1994 were from the U.S. Senate hearing of the 1984 Airborne Lead Reduction Act. Vehicle traffic data, fuel efficiency, percentage leaded gasoline, and quantities of Pb in gasoline were obtained for 1982 from public and corporate records to estimate vehicle Pb emissions for small to very large UAs of California. California fuel consumption records and yearly quantities of Pb additives per gallon were the basis for estimating the 1950–1982 dispersion of Pb in each UA. Lead additives were calculated by multiplying annual vehicle fuel used by average Pb per gallon. The proportion of Pb additive for each UA was calculated from vehicle miles traveled (VMT) driven in 1982 divided by miles per gallon fuel consumption times the ratio of leaded to unleaded fuel times Pb additive per gallon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculations of the fates of Pb were used to estimate Pb aerosol dispersal in each UA. About 108 billion miles of travel in 1982 within 8 UAs accounts for 3200 metric tons of Pb additives or not, vert, similar 60% total Pb additives in California. Between the 1950–1982 peak of Pb additives, about 258,000 metric tons are accounted for out of the state 412,000 metric tons total during the same time period. The estimates of the quantities of Pb dust that accumulated within various UAs in California assists with predicting the continuing influences of Pb on children's exposure. Mapping the soil Pb reservoir assists with establishing the priority for enhancing environments of children.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3965-3975
    Number of pages11
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Issue number19
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Leaded gasoline
    • Lead policy
    • Precautionary approach
    • Primary lead prevention
    • Soil lead
    • Urban geochemistry
    • Urban lead mapping


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