With National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week being observed Oct. 24-30, Gabriel Filippelli, the executive director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, is available to comment on the risks of lead exposure in urban environments and the need for more comprehensive public health guidelines specific to urban farms and gardens.

A biogeochemist whose research focuses on human exposure to pollutants, Filippelli is leading multiple citizen science projects to identify the presence of contaminants, such as lead, in communities and raise awareness of the risks posed by heavy metals in the soil. Much of the data being gathered through these efforts is publicly shared through mapmyenvironment.com.

Many urban neighborhoods in the US are impacted by heavy metal contamination, including lead. In some communities more than 20% of children test high for lead in their blood. While people often associate lead poisoning with water or paint, research has shown that a major pathway for lead exposure in children is the soil in places they play, like yards, playgrounds, and parks.

More about Gabriel Filippelli

Gabriel Filippelli is a biogeochemist, focusing on the flow and cycling of elements and chemicals in the environment. This includes his work on pollutant distribution and exposure to human populations, and ways to engage communities to reduce their own exposures. He is also executive director of Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute, a part of IU's Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, as well as director of the Center for Urban Health at IUPUI and editor-in-chief of GeoHealth. He has well over 100 publications, ranging from technical scientific reports to essays for broader audiences. He is funded by multiple private and federal agencies and frequently speaks on topics including climate change and children's health.

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