Results of 2013 children's blood lead testing clinic released

City of Trail
By City of Trail
January 17th, 2014

The Trail Area Health & Environment Committee (THEC) presented results of the 2013 children’s blood lead testing clinic at its meeting Jan. 14. The average blood lead level for children aged six to 36 months in Trail and Rivervale is 4.9 μg/dL (micrograms per deciliter) with 93 per cent of children testing below 10 μg/dL.

“I am reassured by these results. We are continuing to see the trend we’d like to see with the children’s blood lead levels in Trail,” said Dr. Andrew Larder, Senior Medical Health Officer with Interior Health.

“Children’s lead levels in Trail have reduced dramatically in the last 20 years. At the levels we currently see, any potential effects of lead exposure would be subtle and likely not measurable in individual children.”

The 2013 results are based on venous samples only, meaning blood samples taken from a vein rather than a finger. Finger poke samples, known as capillary samples, have a greater risk of contamination. A review showed that over the 22‐year history of children’s blood lead testing in Trail, capillary samples have had statistically higher lead levels than venous samples, which indicate potentially contaminated samples.

“We always prefer to take the sample from a vein, but when that’s not possible we use the finger-poke method,” said Dr. Larder. “In the past four years, we saw a higher rate of capillary samples. We will be implementing changes in our clinic to minimize the number of capillary samples. If they need to be taken, we are also making changes to our sample collection methods to minimize risk of contamination and make sure the samples are more comparable. We are confident that all children who needed family case management have received that support.”

According to Richard Deane, Manager of Environment, Health & Safety and Public Affairs at Teck Trail Operations, “Teck is committed to continuing to reduce lead emissions and meeting the Trail Area Health and Environment Committee’s 2018 air quality goals, which should result in lower lead levels in the target group of young children. We have made significant reductions in air emissions in the past 20 years and are further reducing emissions through the ongoing fugitive dust reduction program, a multi‐year effort to continue to improve community air quality. The program includes one newly constructed building to enclose mixing and storage materials, and a feasibility study for a second building is underway.“

“The THEC has done a good job of reducing children’s blood lead levels over the years,” said Mayor Dieter Bogs, chair of the THEC. “We’re pleased to see that there has been gradual improvement during the last decade. The community consultation process lowered the THEC goal for children’s blood lead average to 4 μg/dL by 2015. The company has responded by committing to significant investments in reducing fugitive dust, which offers the greatest opportunity to reduce the level of lead in the air.”

This year’s blood lead clinic included a one‐time testing of children aged 6 months to 36 months living in Warfield, Anable, Oasis, Casino and Waneta. The average blood lead level for children living in those communities is 2.7 μg/dL (micrograms per deciliter) and no children with blood lead levels over 10μg/dL,again based on venous samples. The THEC will review these results with the elected representatives of these communities.

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