Neighbors of a local active lead-acid battery recycler that processes millions of spent automotive batteries per year for over 60 years have raised concerns about residential exposure pathways and the resulting public health threat. Battery recycling operations (i.e. secondary lead smelters) are notoriously associated with airborne and suspended dust releases of toxins, including lead (Pb), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), antimony (Sb) and manganese (Mn). The Quemetco Inc. secondary lead smelter in City of Industry, CA is no exception and has drawn recent attention for violations of air quality standards and excessive emissions of toxic metals. The extent to which these emissions may be impacting the surrounding low-income community of color are, as yet unknown, but initial screening of soil samples found concentrations of Pb, Cd, and As 30, 400, and 500 times higher, respectively, than California health screen ‘safety’ standards for residential soil.

We propose a community-driven research study in the vicinity surrounding the battery recycling operations in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County to characterize individual biomarkers of toxic metal exposures in children living in communities adjacent to the smelter. It is critical to understand the body burden of multiple metals in the community in order to evaluate the impact of metal mixtures on human health. We will recruit 40 parents/guardians willing to provide baby teeth of their children who are lifelong residents in the neighborhood through community workshops and organizations and complete a childhood behavior survey.
Teeth will be analyzed to retrospectively characterize exposure to multiple metals from second trimester of pregnancy through the first two years of life. Lead by a junior investigator, this research will produce key data on the internal dose and timing of exposure of metal mixtures to support the development of a long-term study
to relate biomarkers of toxic metal exposures to child health outcomes.

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