An elementary school in Boyle Heights is among four LAUSD campuses where temporary fencing went up around dirt areas, to protect returning students this week from lead contamination from the closed Exide battery recycling plant.

At Lorena Street Elementary, the temporary barriers were set up around around the exterior dirt yard on the east side of the campus, nearest Lorena Street. Similar measures were taken at Rowena Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles and Fishburne Avenue Elementary in Maywood.

At another East Los Angeles campus, Eastman Avenue Elementary, the district had already removed dirt from two tree wells last year.

The schools are among five LAUSD campuses where the state Department of Toxic Substances Control has found elevated levels of lead. The state agency wrote to the school district this month, suggesting that they take temporary measures at the schools to keep small children from playing in the dirt. No action was suggested for the fifth campus, Huntington Park High School, because its older students are unlikely to play in the dirt.

Lead is known to be particularly harmful for young children and pregnant women because it can cause learning deficiencies and brain damage.

The state closed the Exide recycling plant last year after it allowed it to operate for decades without a permanent permit. During that time the Vernon plant was cited several times for polluting nearby residential areas with lead and arsenic.

Antonio Mejías-Rentas

Antonio Mejías-Rentas is a Senior Editor at Boyle Heights Beat, where he mentors teenage journalists, manages the organization’s website and covers local issues. A veteran bilingual journalist, he's...

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