Measurements of blood lead levels in children near Umicore site in Hoboken in line with previous measurements

The Provincial Institute of Hygiene (PIH) announced today the results of the six-monthly measurements of lead in blood of children living near the Umicore site in Hoboken*. The average test result of 3.03 micrograms per deciliter of blood (µg/dl) is comparable to 2.91 µg/dl in October.

The study, in which 177 children participated this time, also showed that the number of children with a blood lead value of above 5 µg/dl continued to fall to 12.4% from 13.3% at the previous measurement in the fall of 2021. The number of children with a lead value above 10 µg/dl further decreased to 3 from 4 at the previous measurement. Zone 1, right next to the site, remains the most vulnerable zone with about 28% of children having a blood lead value above 5 µg/dl. However, this is a decrease from about 30% in the fall. For more details, please see the table further below in this press release.

Additional efforts remain necessary

"These new results of blood lead values confirm the downward trend and show that our long-standing efforts and actions to reduce our emissions are paying off. Caring for our environment and for the children in our community is and will continue to be a top short- and long-term priority for our site. We, therefore, will remain alert, thoroughly analyze the results and continue to act with conviction to take additional measures to obtain an even more favorable evolution," said Johan Ramharter, Director of Umicore's Hoboken site.

The district nurse contacts the families of all tested children and assists them with advice.

Umicore is committed to improving its living together with the community and to reducing its impact on the environment. Since last year, for example, the site adjusts its logistic activities to the weather conditions: if the wind is too strong, we postpone or temporarily stop our dust-generating activities. We spray and clean even more intensively and use the very latest technology to monitor and adjust our emissions. In addition, the construction of a green zone will increase the distance between the residential properties and the factory. In the zone adjacent to the factory, 96% of families have indicated that they want to move. The creation of the green zone is planned for 2024. Meanwhile, a project to green the site itself has been completed, with 1 hectare of planting on the side of the residential area.

*Every six months, the PIH conducts lead-in blood tests on a voluntary basis for children aged 1 to 12 years from the Moretusburg and Hertogvelden neighborhoods.

Table blood lead measurements

Micrograms per deciliter of blood is abbreviated µg/dl

Lead in blood

2021 June

2021 December

2022 June

Average µg/dl 3.42 2.91 3.03

Nr of children in zone MO1 living right next to the site with >5 µg/dl

18, of whom 4 with >10 µg/dl 14, of whom 0 with >10 µg/dl 5, of whom 2 with >10 µg/dl
Nr of children with >5 µg/dl 44 27 19
Nr of children with >10 µg/dl 5 4 – of which 1 child with >20 µg/dl 3

Nr of tested children out of the nr of children living in Moretusburg / Hertogvelden

261 out of 406 232 out of 361 177 out of 331

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