Lead Poisoning

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Neighbors Skeptical of L.A. Battery Recycling Plant’s Clean Up Proposal

Doelores Mejia attended a recent public meeting in Boyle Heights where state Department of Toxic Substances Control officials described neighborhood lead contamination. Mejia says state officials should have closed the plant long ago. (Chris Richard)

Doelores Mejia attended a recent public meeting in Boyle Heights where state officials described neighborhood lead contamination. Mejia says regulators should have closed the plant long ago. (Chris Richard)

By Chris Richard

Operators of a battery recycling plant suspected of showering its neighbors just east of downtown Los Angeles with lead dust for decades have submitted new soil testing and remediation plans. According to the documents, the area  that incrementally increases the area to be surveyed will be incrementally increased and homes inhabited by young children and pregnant women will be specially vacuumed or have lead dust sealed.

The Exide plant has been cited repeatedly for leaking lead and arsenic into nearby residential neighborhoods.

Exide Technologies also may remove an undisclosed amount of soil from two yards already identified as hazardous to children.

At the same time, the company has received regulatory approval for more than $5 million in improvements to pollution-control measures at its plant in Vernon. That’s on top of $15 million the company has committed to anti-pollution measures since 2010.

In separate press releases regarding the ground contamination and the air-quality protection measures, senior Exide director E.N. “Bud” DeSart is quoted as saying the company is resolved to protect the public health. Continue reading

Frustrated Neighbors Want Faster Action Over L.A. Battery Recycling Plant

Roberto Cabrales of Communities for a Better Environment regularly includes the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon in the activist group’s “toxic tour” of pollution sites to the east and south of Los Angeles. (Chris Richard)

Roberto Cabrales of Communities for a Better Environment regularly includes the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon in the activist group’s “toxic tour” of pollution sites to the east and south of Los Angeles. (Chris Richard)

By Chris Richard

Like most 6-year-olds, Claudia Gomez’s son, Stanley, loves to play in the dirt, and he doesn’t much like washing his hands. But these days more than ever, Gomez is a stickler for cleanliness.

On Sunday evening, she spotted the grime as Stanley raced past her on his way to play outside.

Exide plant may have showered its neighbors with lead dust for decades. 

“I already washed my hands!” Stanley complained.

The protest didn’t work. Gomez hauled Stanley to the sink and started scrubbing.

Gomez is being so careful because the state Department of Toxic Substances Control has warned parents not to let their children play in the dirt. The department is urging frequent hand-washing as a precaution against lead poisoning. Continue reading

High Levels of Lead Found in Soil Near L.A. Battery Recycling Plant

The Exide Technologies plant in Vernon. (Photo/Chris Richard)

The Exide Technologies plant in Vernon. (Photo/Chris Richard)

By Chris Richard

Tests of homes and schools near a battery recycling plant east of Los Angeles have detected elevated lead levels, prompting state officials Monday to caution the public against exposure and to order expanded testing.

Both neighborhoods surveyed exceeded the state’s “health screening level” for lead of 80 parts per million. One home topped 580 parts per million, according to a testing report.

Residents are cautioned to keep children away from bare soil and to wash hands thoroughly.

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control has given Exide Technologies until March 21 to develop a plan for additional testing of the 39 homes and two schools included in the original study, as well as a wider area.

This announcement follows testing last month in Boyle Heights and Maywood, just east of downtown Los Angeles. It marks the DTSC’s first discovery of widespread ground contamination in residential areas near Exide’s plant in Vernon. Continue reading

Lead-Based Paint Still a Hazard for California’s Most Vulnerable Children

hree year old Antonio suffered hearing loss after eating lead-based paint chips as a toddler. (Lauren M. Whaley/CHCF Center for Health Reporting)

Three year old Antonio suffered hearing loss after eating lead-based paint chips as a toddler. (Lauren M. Whaley/CHCF Center for Health Reporting)

By Kelley WeissCHCF Center for Health Reporting

Children’s advocates are hoping for a big Christmas present this year – a billion dollars to remove toxic lead paint from homes. A Santa Clara Superior Court judge has until the end of the year to decide if paint companies should pay to get rid of lead paint still in thousands of older homes around the state.

While California’s lead poisoning cases have declined, especially over the last two decades, children’s advocates say the most vulnerable children are still at risk because they don’t have enough money to reach the finish line.

Two counties are trying to fix the problem with the resources they have.

Alameda County is one of the ten counties and cities involved in the lawsuit.

Two years ago Nathaniel Stone was living in an East Oakland apartment with one-year-old Antonio. Stone is Antonio’s legal guardian and is in the process of adopting him. The home they lived in had a lot of peeling paint.

One day when Stone was cooking in the kitchen from across the room he saw that Antonio seemed to be eating something. Stone checked it out and found Antonio with paint chips in his mouth. Continue reading

Candy is Bad for Kids … Because It Might Be Laced with Lead

Yes, a candy named "Toxic Waste" was recalled. (Image: California Department of Public Health)

By Lyssa Rome

Just like that, the number of children at risk for lead poisoning jumped five-fold yesterday as the Centers for Disease Control announced that it cut its threshold for lead poisoning diagnosis in half. The new diagnosis will occur at five micrograms per deciliter of blood. The former threshold was 10.

Health advocates have worked to alert the public to the risks of lead in paint, toys and even jewelry. But lead can also be found in – of all things tempting to children – candy. Candy with high levels of lead may not taste unusual. In fact, some kinds of lead even taste sweet.

Lead is a major environmental health risk. It affects almost every system in the body, including the brain and other organs, but the symptoms aren’t always obvious. For children, exposure to even minute quantities of lead can cause long-term developmental problems, including lower IQ, and the damage may not be reversible.

“It is not entirely clear where the lead in many of the products is coming from.”
California’s Department of Public Health began testing candy for lead in 2007 and has done 5,700 tests since. Over the years, it has issued warnings [PDF] not to eat 188 different sweets.

Most of those candies are imported, mainly from four countries: Mexico, Malaysia, China and India. That’s where the candies come from, but what about the lead itself? Continue reading