Volume 52, Issue 4

It may sound silly to say that when I moved here, I drastically underestimated the difference in building techniques between the gulf side of the Mississippi and the origins of the Mississippi. A good example: It never really occurred to me that folks here don’t dig giant holes for their buildings! After 13 years of living/working/studying in Minnesota, I grew accustom to dealing with backfill and unit prices for excavation. After being here awhile, I thougtht perhaps I’d never see a spec for soil remediation ever again. Lo and behold, the exact subject became the source of news here in New Orleans very recently as area playgrounds (and children’s blood levels) were found to contain high levels of lead: so high, in fact, they nearly triple those deemed as maximum acceptable levels in Minnesota (see chart above). Aside from remediating area playgrounds as reported recently in the Times Picayune and nola.com, how might we deal with lead levels on our building sites? The author of many a research article and Research Professor at Tulane /Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, Howard Mielke, recommends the following as a starting point (abbreviated from a recent phone conversation):

Do not scrape & remove existing soil (it just exports the problem)
Bring in minimum 6” clean soil in locations where soil has the potential to become exposed
‘Clean’ means max 20ppm lead, tested by the LSU Ag Center