Almost all of the properties tested for contamination by the Exide battery recycling plant have turned up lead levels that require clean up. KPCC reports that 99 percent of properties tested by both California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control and Los Angeles County have lead that needs to be removed from the yard.
Just over 1,000 properties have been examined since the Exide plant closed in 2015. Out of 626 tested by the state agency, only five did not have dangerous levels of lead. But the local Department of Public Health says that of the 382 properties tested by Los Angeles County, every one has lead that needs to be removed.
The ultimate goal is to test about 10,000 properties in a 1.7 mile radius around the former Exide plant in Vernon.
Health officials say that they will first focus on cleaning up properties in the so-called “Priority 1” tier –homes with the highest levels of lead, at or above 1,000 parts per million– and that it will take them until June of 2018 to complete that work. But environmental activists say families in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles and other nearby communities whose properties test at lower levels should not have to wait to have their yards cleaned.
Only 20 percent of the tested yards have shown “Priority 1” levels, KPCC reports. That’s 180 of the homes tested by Toxic Substances Control and 28 tested by the County.
Health officials are warning families not to let their kids play on bare soil, to take their shoes off before entering the house and to frequently wash hands and toys as ways of avoiding illnesses from contact with lead.
Photo above: Courtesy of Los Angeles County
Watch a video of the lead testing process by Los Angeles County:
LA Now Special Edition: Exide from Los Angeles County Newsroom on Vimeo.