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Report: Using Google Earth to Visualize and Interact with the New Orleans soil legacy Pb and blood Pb data before and after Hurricane Katrina

The New Orleans soil legacy Pb and blood Pb data collections and studies were conducted before Katrina and repeated 15-19 years after Katrina by Howard Mielke, Chris Gonzales, and Eric Powell at Tulane University in cooperation with Trina Evans and Ngoc Huynh of the Louisiana Department of Health Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.  All data for the Pre-K and post-K surveys have been packaged into a Google Earth kmz (keyhole markup language zipped) file.  It is part of our responsibility to share this report with the citizens of New Orleans.

Follow these instructions to view the project: 

  1. Download Google Earth Pro

  2. Install Google Earth Pro and launch.

  3. Important: If you are not familiar with Google Earth, read the introductory users guide found at: https://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/google_earth/UserGuide.html

  4. Download KMZ file: New Orleans Pb surveys soil & children

  5. Locate downloaded kmz file and double click on it.
    1. The file will open in Google Earth.  Please note that this file contains a lot of data and it may take some time to load on slower computers.
    2. The kmz file will appear as new item called “Temporary Places” in the layers pane on the left side of Google Earth.
    3. In that pane, uncheck the box called New Orleans Pb surveys soil & children. The file has six items which correspond to layers on the map. To view the layers, expand by clicking the little black arrow to the left of the box.
  6. Check the boxes for the following layers:
    1. Pre-Katrina Pb kriged.
    2. Post-Katrina Pb kriged.
    3. Soil Pb kriged (legend).
    4. Toggling between the two maps can be accomplished by turning on and off the Post-Katrina Pb kriged subheading. The legend applies to both sets of soil samples.
  7. Check the box for the Census Tract Soil and Blood Pb layer. Move your mouse to a blue-bordered Census Tract and click.  The pop-up window lists information about median Soil Pb & Blood Pb for both surveys.  If you move your mouse into a blue-bordered census tract and see a hand cursor, keep moving your mouse within that area until you see an actual arrow cursor.  Then you can click and see the information.

    Example: Census Tract 274 information below describes the information for each layer.
    CTract 274.00 (Census tract number -1990 tract numbers)
    Pre-K SPb 82 (median soil Pb, Pre-K survey)
    Post-K SPb 25 (median soil Pb, Post-K survey)
    SPb Units mg/kg (units also referred to as ppm)
    Pre-K N BPb 217 (number of children tested, Pre-K)
    Post-K N BPb 63 (number of children tested, Post-K)
    Pre-K BPb 3.7 (median blood Pb Pre-K)
    Post-K BPb 1.2 (median blood Pb, Post-K)
    BPb Units µg/dL (micrograms of Pb per deciliter of blood)

  8. Look up individual sample results for Pre-Katrina (green) and/or for Post-Katrina survey (blue) sample collection sites. The individual samples are listed as Foundation (FND), residential street (STR), busy street (BST), open space (OPS).

Brief Discussion: The environmental Pb chemistry of the city plays an important role in multiple health issues which are associated with socioeconomic disparities in New Orleans. Soil legacy Pb is invisible. This kmz file contains novel information about the decades-long continuing decline of environmental Pb and children's Pb exposure. Knowledge about the dynamic Pb chemistry of the urban environment and its spatiotemporal distribution provides a tool for primary prevention of children's Pb exposure.

Acknowledgements: The 2013-2017 survey was funded by The Ling and Ronald Cheng Fund, Alan S. Drake, Al French and MaryAn Godshall, Allen and Laura Carmen, Paul W. Jr. and Roberta R. Mielke, Thomas Beller, Jack Eichenbaum, Gabriel Filippelli, members of the Community Church Unitarian Universalist, and the Department of Pharmacology. None of the funders were involved in study design, collection, analysis and interpretation, and writing the report.