The 1007th meeting of 

The Mineralogical Society


Southern California



Prospering Backyards: Lead sequestration using Zeolites in Los Angeles

presented by Dr. Aaron Celestian, PhD

Friday, November 11, 2022 at  7:30.

See program notes below

Visitors are always welcome

About us…

The MSSC is a member of the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies and is dedicated to the dissemination of general knowledge of the mineralogical and related earth sciences through the study of mineral specimens.  We are a scientific non-profit organization that actively supports those endeavors through public outreach, field study and related programs.

For more information

Program Notes: Join us: Friday, November 11, 2022 at 7:30, for Aaron Celestian, Ph.D. presenting “Prospering Backyards: Lead Sequestration Using Zeolites in Los Angeles”

Summary:  The Exide plant and past companies recycled batteries for 90 years and introduced heavy metals, lead and arsenic into the environment, while government agencies were unresponsive to this community health crisis. Community-based organizations like East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and Communities for a Better Environment, among others, advocated and forced the permanent closure of the facility in 2015. Today communities continue to be exposed to the contaminants now present in their soil. To better protect families, there is an urgent need to remove Pb from the soil. This is a collaborative research project between community scientists from the affected community, artists, and activists to develop an alternative method for reducing lead exposure in contaminated backyards while considering the health of the soil and the environment. 

The current cleaning approach by the government is to completely remove the contaminated soil and replace it with clean soil. This process is locally effective but is very costly because it involves transportation and replacement, and the soil is still contaminated at its landfill dumpsite.  An alternative method that we want to propose is the use of the clinoptilolite (a type of zeolite) to entomb the lead and make it no longer biologically accessible. This mineral is not harmful to people (even when containing lead), it increases water permeability in the soil, and also helps retain moisture for plant roots making it an ideal remediation method.  Work is ongoing and a cohort of properties have been selected.  This talk will cover the back story of lead pollution in Los Angeles, how and why clinoptilolite was selected, as well as how the mineral works to absorb lead.

Biography: Dr. Celestian currently researches how minerals interact with their environments and with living things, and how those minerals can be used to solve problems like climate change, pollution, and disease.  His on-going research in experimental design, real-time material characterization, synthesis & application, and the functionalization of minerals is developing novel nano-crystalline Earth materials into functional materials for a wide variety of demanding applications.   Prior to becoming curator of Mineral Sciences at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, he was a Professor of Geology at Western Kentucky University, Director of the Advanced Materials Institute in Bowling Green, KY, affiliate scientist at the Kentucky NanoNet (a nanomaterials consortium), and VP for research & development at Terra Enviro LLC.  Currently, Dr. Celestian holds adjunct teaching and research faculty positions at the University of Southern California and is an Affiliate Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  In addition to research, Dr. Celestian oversees the Gem & Mineral Hall at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and regularly develops mineral science exhibits.


Effective April, 21, 2021, paid MSSC members will be automatically on the invite list each month.

For Non Members, you must request to attend the MSSC zoom meeting every month. See below for details.

Participants who want to do this must respond to our Programs chair, Rudy Lopez at  no later than Thursday, November 10, 2022.  Please include “November  ZOOM Meeting” in the subject line of your response. This response date will allow time for us to send you the information needed to participate in the ZOOM meeting.

Upcoming Events (all events, except field trips are via ZOOM until further notice)

  • December 9, 2022: Wes Andree: “JMDC: A gem of the Inland Empire”
  • January 13, 2023:Denise Nelson:  Diamonds of the Forbidden Zone
  • February 17, 2023: Paolo Sanchez (

  • March 10, 2023: Wes Andree: “JMDC’s Dinosaur Trek” our augmented reality (AR) dinosaur hunt.

The MSSC is pleased to offer the new 2021 edition of Bob Pedersen’s X- Dana 

X-Dana Mineral Spreadsheet