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K-State study will research methods to reduce risk of human exposure to lead in soil

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Lead testing
K-State Research and Extension
K-State graduate students collect soil samples in a Kansas City neighborhood.

Kansas State University will use land plots in Kansas City for its study to find ways to reduce and stabilize lead in the soil, a threat especially dangerous to children under the age of six.

Kansas State University research will look for better and cheaper ways to reduce the amount of lead humans are exposed to in the land. Ganga Hettiarachchi is a professor of soil and environmental chemistry at the university.

"What we are planning to do," says Hettiarachchi, "is rather than thinking that absolutely we can remove all soils and replace with clean soils, to take a more cost effective approach."

This issue is of particular concern in Kansas City, as lead levels in some children living there are nine times higher than the average across the country. Amy Roberts of the Kansas City Health Department says that can lead to substantial health issues in kids.

"What we're looking at, obviously, is potentially nine times the risk of being lead poisoned. And, when a child is lead poisoned, they can have damage throughout their body," explains Roberts. "Kidney damage, infertility, heart damage, seizures... and they can die from it."

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