Research

Legacy Soil Pollution: Higher lead levels may lie just below surface

Lead-safe or not lead-safe?

Research indicates that measuring soil contamination at the surface may miss higher concentrations of lead just below ground. Flaking lead paint from old water towers may pose a risk to surrounding properties. Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University

A study of data from hundreds of soil samples taken around six old water tower sites in southern Rhode Island finds that even when lead levels on the surface are low, concentrations can sometimes be greater at depths down to a foot. The findings inform efforts to assess the effect of lead paint from old water towers on surrounding properties.