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August 10, 2021

EPA Funds Research to Understand Better Exposure of Young Children to Chemicals in Soil and Dust

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 6, 2021, that it will provide $9,272,545 in funding to seven institutions for research to estimate better children’s chemical exposures from soil and dust ingestion. According to EPA, the research will focus on improving estimates of children’s ingestion rates of chemicals such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and asbestos. EPA states that “[a]ccurate, comprehensive measurements of soil and dust ingestion rates are critical for effective risk assessment, reduction, mitigation, and prevention measures.” The following researchers are receiving funding through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program to help improve children’s health:

  • Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, will conduct a community-based research study to understand and mitigate chemical contaminant exposure among children in neighborhoods with high lead and heavy metal contamination in soils around West Atlanta;
  • Florida International University, Miami, Florida, will estimate soil and dust ingestion rates in children by identifying specific tracers of dust and soil exposure combined with relevant environmental information;
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, will create an integrated and innovative portfolio of tools and approaches to assess dust and soil exposures for children ages six months to six years via activity pattern and tracer studies;
  • New York University, New York, New York, will evaluate specific home environment factors and practices that lead to elevated levels of individual toxic substances ingestible by infants. According to EPA, the researchers hope to evaluate mitigation strategies to reduce infants’ exposure to harmful chemicals in household dust;
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, will obtain data on dust loading on various objects and surfaces in children’s homes, foods, and children’s hands. The researchers will also conduct computer-aided investigations about children’s hand contacts and mouthing patterns;
  • University of California Davis, Davis, California, will develop an innovative method for determining children’s dust ingestion rates using unique tracer compounds identified in household dusts; and
  • University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nevada, will develop a behavior-driven dust and soil ingestion model to predict the dust and soil ingestion rate from children’s microenvironmental features and behavioral factors.