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Five decades after the US approval of the commercial use of leaded petrol, the US EPA began a phasedown of leaded petrol to prevent spoiling catalytic converters, mandatory on all new US cars in 1975. With prompting by citizens and the Minnesota legislature, the US Congress required the US EPA to enforce a rapid phasedown on 1 January 1986 until the final ban of leaded petrol for highway vehicles on 1 January 1996. This article reviews the outcomes of curtailing leaded petrol on the temporal and spatial changes of pediatric blood Pb and soil lead (Pb) in metropolitan New Orleans. In 2001, a soil Pb survey was completed for all census tracts of metropolitan New Orleans. In 2006, after major flooding by Hurricane Katrina, a preliminary survey of 44 census tracts showed that the median soil Pb and children’s median blood Pb decreased across flooded and unflooded communities. In June 2017 a second survey was completed in all census tracts. Evaluation of pediatric blood Pb and soil Pb in matching census tracts (N=274) confirmed that curtailing leaded petrol diminished children’s exposure and concurrently reduced soil Pb. The concurrent temporal and spatial declines of children’s exposure and soil Pb were also observed in the Detroit Tri-County Area of Michigan. Curtailing leaded petrol was gradually accepted, and on 30 August 2021, 35 years after the US EPA phasedown, leaded petrol was banned by all nations. Eliminating leaded petrol was an essential step for primary Pb prevention of pediatric exposure and improving community health. Continuing efforts are required to reduce legacy-soil Pb that persists disproportionately in traffic congested, older, inner-city, urban areas, and other communities that are subjected to large inputs of Pb aerosols.
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