High lead level in kid blood tests in Vernon area

A new study from the CA Department of Public Health indicates that kids younger than 6 who live near the EXIDE Battery Recycling Plant is likely to have more lead in their blood than kids in LA County overall.

For some, who have been fighting the fight to get more cleanup resources after the 2015 closure of the plant, the finding is no surprise. For others it’s just shocking.

Elizabeth Gonzalez was just picking up her kids from Bandini Elementary School when we ran into to her and asked her reaction to the findings. She was shocked. Except for, “wow, alarming…” she was at a loss for words. She said the blood of her 6-year-old son Jeremiah and 9-year-daughter have never had abnormal levels of blood when tested the report gave her a pause for thought. 

Mark Lopez is the latest in his family to be fighting the fight against the company that, not only, had run-ins with regulators but also had to declare bankruptcy in 2013. It closed down permanently in 2013. The concerns were pollutants including lead and arsenic. Both are used in battery recycling.

Lopez is the Executive Director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. In reaction to the state study he says, “You know it kinda confirms our fears. We’ve been pushing for the release of this data for some time now and we know that the area that’s been identified for cleanup is not large enough.”

He says the sampling and cleanup area, so far, has been in a radius of 1.7 miles from the Exide site. But, the blood tests showing elevated lead levels has been in an area 4.5 miles in radius. Lopez says more needs to be done. He says, “a lot of folks in our communities are undocumented. some are uninsured so we want to be sure there are free services to provide the support that we need.

He’d also like to see more comprehensive sampling. The new study also suggested some of the higher lead levels could be coming from paint in pre-1948 homes. 

In response to our request for a reaction, EXIDE representatives sent us this statement just before 6pm: 

Today, Exide learned that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released an analysis related to certain blood lead testing. Exide has been asking the CDPH and other California agencies to release this information.

Exide is studying the analysis, and the Company is not surprised to see that the age of the housing stock ? indicating the likely presence of leaded paint ? is an important predictor of blood lead levels. Exide continues to fund a blood lead testing program administered by the County of Los Angeles Health Department.

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