Risk assessment for children exposed to arsenic on baseball fields with contaminated fill material

Alesia C. Ferguson, Jennifer C. Black, Isaac B. Sims, Jennifer N. Welday, Samir M. Elmir, Kendra F. Goff, J. Mark Higginbotham, Helena M. Solo-Gabriele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Children can be exposed to arsenic through play areas which may have contaminated fill material from historic land use. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the risk to children who play and/or spend time at baseball fields with soils shown to have arsenic above background levels. Arsenic in soils at the study sites located in Miami, FL, USA showed distinct distributions between infield, outfield, and areas adjacent to the fields. Using best estimates of exposure factors for children baseball scenarios, results show that non-cancer risks depend most heavily upon the age of the person and the arsenic exposure level. For extreme exposure scenarios evaluated in this study, children from 1 to 2 years were at highest risk for non-cancer effects (Hazard Quotient, HQ > 2.4), and risks were higher for children exhibiting pica (HQ > 9.7) which shows the importance of testing fill for land use where children may play. At the study sites, concentration levels of arsenic resulted in a range of computed cancer risks that differed by a factor of 10. In these sites, the child’s play position also affected risk. Outfield players, with a lifetime exposure to these arsenic levels, could have 10 times more increased chance of experiencing cancers associated with arsenic (i.e., lung, bladder, skin) in comparison to infielders. The distinct concentration distributions observed between these portions of the baseball fields emphasize the need to delineate contaminated areas in public property where citizens may spend more free time. This study also showed a need for more tools to improve the risk estimates for child play activities. For instance, more refined measurements of exposure factors for intake (e.g., inhalation rates under rigorous play activities, hand to mouth rates), exposure frequency (i.e., time spent in various activities) and other exposure factors (e.g., soil particulate emission rates at baseball play fields) can help pinpoint risk on baseball fields where arsenic levels may be a concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number67
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 2018


  • Arsenic
  • Baseball fields
  • Cancer
  • Non-cancer
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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