This page includes static maps of the various Omaha businesses using lead in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000. These maps were created from data the EPA collected on businesses confirmed to have used lead in their products in Omaha during these years. The maps include all of these businesses, aside from a couple whose locations and/or years of operations could not be found.


The major industrial use of lead in 1950 was to coat products in lead paint (a trend you will see further on as we explore subsequent decades). The use of leaded inks was also popular with lithography and printing businesses. In 1950, lead acid battery production had just begun in Omaha, as well as the sealing of tin cans with lead solder. Lead smelting companies like ASARCO had previously been around long before 1950 in Omaha, whose products were used to supply industries employing lead in their paints, inks, batteries, and canneries.


As lead smelting in Omaha continues, we see a positive-feedback loop further encouraging the growth of other businesses implementing lead in their products. In 1960, more industries using lead solder to seal metals, leaded inks for printing, and painted products slowly begin to take hold over downtown Omaha.


In 1970, the popularity of lead-acid batteries compel more battery-making companies to find a foothold in Omaha, while businesses coating their products with lead paint begin to further expand into the suburbs.


In 1980, lithography businesses using lead in their inks and printing presses slightly decline, while businesses selling products coated in lead paint further move away from downtown Omaha.


As the dangers of lead poisoning become more widely understood in 1990, a decrease in businesses using lead paints, lead-acid batteries, and solders can be observed.


With the closure of ASARCO, lead smelting disappears downtown altogether. As a result, fewer businesses using lead paint to coat products remain open. The concentration of industrial lead usage in downtown Omaha in 2000 becomes much more dilute.

Our analysis of industrial lead between 1950 and 2000 reveals a few trends. First, we see a very high concentration of businesses using lead in downtown Omaha from 1950 to 1970, almost precisely where today's superfund site is located. Then, we begin to see more expansion of these businesses into West Omaha from 1970 through 1980 as suburbanization takes root. Following trends in the distribution of Omaha's population was strategic for these businesses, as their services were sought out by people living in the suburbs rather than just downtown. Finally, from 1980 to 2000, we see a rapid decline in these businesses in downtown Omaha due in part to increased awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning, as well as new methods of manufacture taking lead's place in industry.