Effect of Exterior Home Renovation on Community Lead Hazards: A Pilot Study in South Bend, Indiana

19 November 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Communities across the US face challenges from legacy lead contamination. In South Bend, Indiana, over 68,000 homes were built before 1978, and most contain leaded paint. When these homes are repainted, repaired, or renovated, failure to use lead-safe practices can contaminate the surrounding soil with lead paint flakes and dust. In this study, we used X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to measure soil lead levels surrounding a home with exterior leaded paint (about 10% Pb w/w) after it was repainted in fall of 2019. The painted wooden exterior was prepared for painting by dry scraping without the use of tarps or plastic barriers. A total of 220 soil samples were collected from the home and its immediate neighbors, and an additional 102 samples were collected from 34 homes in the same neighborhood. The median lead level in dripline soil samples across the neighborhood was 434 ppm, but in the recently repainted house, the median soil lead was 1808.9 ppm, and it was 1,346.4 ppm in the four neighboring homes. The repainted house and its four neighbors were mulched by covering all bare soil to a 4-6 inch depth with chipped wood mulch. Two months later, another 100 soil samples were collected and analyzed. The surface lead level around the target house dropped to 13.8 ppm, showing that mulching is an effective strategy for interim control of high soil lead levels.


leaded paint
X-ray fluorimeter
community health
interim control


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