Assessing Children’s Lead Exposure in an Active Mining Community Using the Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic Model

Dominika Heusinkveld, Mónica D. Ramírez-Andreotta, Tania Rodríguez-Chávez, A. Eduardo Sáez, Eric Betterton, Kyle Rine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Lead exposure has been shown to be harmful to humans in various settings and there are no safe levels of blood lead in children. At an Alternative Superfund site in Hayden-Winkelman, Arizona, with an active copper smelter and concentrator, lead exceedances in air and soil have been measured in the past 20 years. In this work, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) model was used to estimate Hayden-Winkelman children’s (age 6 months–7 years) blood lead levels (BLLs) using site-specific lead concentrations measured in indoor and outdoor air, soil, indoor dust, and drinking water. Values used by a state agency’s airborne lead risk forecast program were also evaluated to determine whether their forecasting program is useful in protecting children’s public health. Using site-specific values in the model, the results demonstrated that lead ingested via indoor dust was the major contributor to children’s BLLs. In addition, the output of the IEUBK model overestimated actual BLLs of children sampled in the community. The IEUBK model was particularly sensitive to high indoor dust levels, and these site-specific measures increased modeled BLL values. This finding is of significance as the IEUBK model is used worldwide in communities with industrial contamination. This study confirmed that the chief contributor to lead exposure in children is household dust. Thus, for lead exposure risk reduction, agencies working at Superfund sites should focus efforts on decontaminating outdoor soil and dust and indoor lead decontamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-533
Number of pages17
JournalExposure and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Blood lead levels
  • Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) model
  • Lead exposure assessment
  • Mining
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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