Friday, December 13, 2019

Emory soil analysis project leads to EPA site investigation

Emory professor Eri Saikawa (left) in the field with Historic Westside Gardens member and Westside resident Rosario Hernandez (center) and Xinyi Yao (right), an Emory student pursuing a master's degree in environmental sciences who is involved in the research project. (Photo by Carol Clark)

An Emory University collaboration with members of Atlanta’s Westside community, to test urban soil for contaminants, has led to a site investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The ongoing community collaboration is funded by Emory’s HERCULES Exposome Research Center, dedicated to understanding how environmental exposures affect health and community well-being.

The EPA told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it is continuing to collect samples and has so far identified 64 sites where the soil contains elevated levels of lead — a dangerous neurotoxin. The agency plans to begin decontaminating properties, possibly by removing and replacing soil, in the first quarter of next year, at no expense to residents or homeowners, according to the AJC. The report also appeared in Georgia Health News.

“It’s important for people to know that soil contamination by heavy metals can be serious,” says Eri Saikawa, an associate professor of environmental sciences at Emory and the lead researcher on the original project that sparked the EPA investigation. “If you are thinking about gardening in an urban area, or if children are playing in your yard, it makes sense to test your soil and make sure that it’s not contaminated.”

Read the full story here.

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