Photo by Art Torres
Photo by Art Torres
Photo by Art Torres

State officials are issuing warnings and ordering more testing after high levels of lead were found in the soil of homes and a preschool near Exide Technologies, a battery recycling plant in Vernon.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control say every home of the 39 tested in Boyle Heights and Maywood had lead contamination in the soil exceeding California’s screening levels of 80 parts per million.

One home in Boyle Heights had samples above 580 parts per million. Salazar Park Head Start was at 95 parts per million.

Regulators say lead levels do not pose a serious risk for adults, but say it is a concern for children and pregnant women. They are urging residents to stay away from bare soil, to wash their hands, and only grow vegetables in raised beds.

Exide officials say they are reviewing the findings. In a statement the company said, “Exide is studying the department’s response and will work cooperatively to conduct the additional sampling and the interim cleanup measures.”

A community meeting will be held March 19 at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights to discuss the testing.

In January the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking up to $40 million in penalties from Exide due primarily to illegal emissions of lead and arsenic.

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