Prof. Kirsten Schwarz – The legacy of environmental lead

will be speaking at the Sierra Club meeting on November 6 at at the Scouting Achievement Center, 10078 Reading Road, Evendale, Oh 45241

The legacy of lead in the environment: What it means for urban soil, urban gardens, and urbanites.

2000 B.A., Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine

2010 Ph.D., Ecology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey Dissertation Title: The Spatial Distribution of Lead in Urban Residential Soil and Correlations with Urban Land Cover of Baltimore, Maryland.

2012-Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY

Dr. Schwarz has had publications and received numerous professional developmental awards from NKU and various grants for work on soil lead contamination.

“Often when we think of lead poisoning the mind conjures an image of old lead-based paint and we likely imagine that the harsh lessons of lead poisoning have long been learned. Many are surprised to hear that the legacy of lead is still with us, lurking in the most obvious of places, like the walls of old buildings, as well as surprising and unlikely places, like the soil beneath our feet.
When our soil contains elevated levels of lead it can be a source of lead to humans when we unintentionally breathe it in or eat it. This makes elevated soil lead an important public health issue that has direct ties to our environment. Ecologists can contribute to our understanding by identifying where in the urban landscape we would expect high levels of soil lead. Predicting “hotspots” – or areas of high soil lead – allows residents, public health organizations and city planners to efficiently and effectively mitigate soil lead exposure.”

“Understanding patterns of soil lead is critical as we strive to transform our older industrial cities into sustainable cities- places where we envision ample green space, local sources of healthy food, and economic vibrancy. Urban gardens are a key component of sustainable cities, providing nutritious food and a connection to community and place. But we must also manage tradeoffs to gardening in the city, like exposure to pollutants, including lead. I’ll discuss on-going research at NKU that is addressing this trade-off. Urban ecological research is contributing part of the solution by exposing the spatial legacy of lead. By better understanding the patterns of soil lead in the city, we can support safe and healthy urban gardening, helping to build a brighter and more sustainable future for our cities.”

A short description of Kirsten Schwarz’s research interests can be found on the NKU website:
https://artscience.nku.edu/departments/biology/people/faculty/schwarz.html
Or her website:
http://www.kirstenschwarz.com/