State regulators have changed the formula they use for assessing if lead-laced soil in a residential property qualifies the home for priority cleanup. The change could result in a significant amount of properties falling off the priority cleanup list.

A total of 6,709 homes have reportedly been tested by the Department of Toxic Substances, the state department in charge of the cleanup, due to the now closed Exide Technologies factory.

Reporting for CAL Matters, Elizabeth Aguilera writes that homes could be bumped so far down the cleanup list that the state would run out of cleanup money before it gets to them. The state has dedicated $176.6 million to cleanup efforts

A year ago the state used a formula that takes several soil samples and if any one of them showed a hot spot of contamination, that property was listed for priority cleanup. A total of 208 homes were designated for priority cleanup under this method. DTSC changed their formula in July and now looks at the average level of lead in all the soil samples taken from a property. CAL Matters writes that even though twice as many homes have been tested since then, the priority list shrank to 52 properties.

A spokesman for the DTSC tells CAL Matters the most recent number of properties on the priority list is from last summer. They say the department changed their formula to match the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approach which they say is used almost entirely nationwide.

The fallout from the Exide factory has plagued several Southeast Los Angeles communities, including Boyle Heights, with lead contaminated soil. Homes, daycares and schools  have needed their soil dug up and replaced. Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause learning and behavioral problems.

DTSC is expected to increase cleanup efforts in the summer.

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Kyle Garcia

Kyle García is a former web editor with Boyle Heights Beat.

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