The demolition of a 60-year-old lead painted bridge in Cincinnati is expected to affect a significant number of residents in the neighborhood next to the structure. The Cincinnati Health Department's health impact assessment (HIA) was initiated because of community concern over the possible increase in ambient air lead and ground dust lead levels. The study assessed how the construction methods used, compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, and current lead cleanup methods prescribed in construction contracts would affect levels of air and ground dust lead during the demolition and construction process.
The report recommended that Cincinnati mitigate the potential lead hazards associated with this project. It urged the city to establish baseline air quality measurements and monitor air quality after demolition; refer residents to local air quality index information; and cover a local athletic field during the demolition project. If more lead dust is detected in the area, the city should refer residents to the local Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Program to apply for a high-efficiency particulate air vacuum loan. The report recommended that contractors monitor air quality during the project; post signs to keep the public away from the construction site; prevent demolition debris from being spread by the wind by covering dumpsters with impermeable plastic; and give residents floor mats designed to catch dust. It urged the contractors to cover any areas of bare soil with native ground cover and trees to decrease dust after the demolition and construction projects are complete. The assessment recommended that other municipal agencies notify residents of the demolition in advance, via door-to-door contact and through local businesses and community gathering spaces; inform residents about protocols to prevent dust from entering the home; and hold school recess indoors during the demolition process. As our country's infrastructure ages, this HIA can be used as a reference when demolishing structures containing lead or lead paint in or near residential areas.