At least one home surrounding the shuttered Exide plant in Vernon has lead levels as high as 100 times the California health standards, and several have lead levels so high it could be classified as hazardous waste, according to a review of limited records by the Los Angeles Times.
The paper examined a summary of results from 1,190 homes released this month by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the state department in charge of the lead clean up. It shows that several homes, schools, and at least one day-care center were contaminated with higher levels of lead than previously thought. The new data released shows some properties have over 12 times the amount of lead allowed by California health standards.
More than 2,400 homes in seven communities –including parts of Boyle Heights– have been tested for lead, and 98% of them have levels that exceed state standards, according to the DTSC. The agency has provided readings for less than 300 properties; it says it notifies residents of their property’s test results within two months.
The Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon was allowed to operate without a full permit for years while it accumulated environmental violations for polluting the nearby area with lead and arsenic. It has since been shut down and California government has dedicated over $176-million dollars to clean up neighborhoods. But the process will be a long one while state officials have to study the environment before they can begin the full cleanup.
Lead is a neurotoxin that can lower IQs, reduce academic achievement and cause permanent developmental and behavioral problems in children, the Times writes. An analysis released earlier in the year show children living near the facility had higher levels of lead in their blood.
The Times obtained the new data through the California Public Records Act.