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  QUESTION: Sources of lead in a house under a flight path, 29 Aug 2005, British Columbia Canada

Our family members have been diagnosed with high lead and cadmium levels.

We have so far been unable to find the source of this contamination (water and soil has been tested by the city authorities.

In the late 1990's when we were tested for heavy metals there was no lead contamination.

We live over a flight path for the Vancouver International Airport and have lived here for 12 years. Does jet fuel still have lead in it ?

Secondly, the only other change over the last 5 years has been that we replaced the carpet with a laminated flooring in the house. Could this be the source of the problem ?

We have thrown away all the food utensils made in China (in case they were lead contaminated) and are currently on medical treatment with DMSA.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You
Charn Deol

ANSWER: 29 Sep 2005

Dear Charn,

only propeller planes normally still use leaded aviation fuel, all the jets use kerosene which does not contain lead, so if your airport has only jets then it should not be the source.

I'm surprised that the health authorities did not test lead in dust or any particular potentially lead-contaminated food or food contact items that your family favours. Without more details as to the ages of family members and how the lead and cadmium toxicity was determined and the actual quantitative results eg blood lead levels, I would not be able to make any better suggestion than that you should read through our info on lead sources and try to work out what to test. Please see the article "IDENTIFYING THE SOURCE OF LEAD POISONING IN EACH INDIVIDUAL CASE" by one of our Technical Advisory Board members, and our fact sheet on sources at If the floor covering is the problem then lead and/or cadmium would show up in a floor dust wipe test which your health department should be able to do. Depending on the age of the house, paint should also be considered as a potential source - the older the house the higher the potential for both lead and cadmium to be in it.

Kelly O'Grady of "The First 6 Years" formerly known as Lead Environmental Awareness and Detection l.e.a.d.. See keeps her website up-to-date on lead issues in Canada so it would be good to check that out too.

I hope this helps but I would be happy to provide more specific advice if given more information on your circumstances.
Good luck in locating the sources and eradicating them.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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