Tests for lead contamination to begin in Miami

Thursday, February 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) _ A second round of soil tests to determine the extent of lead contamination in parks and playgrounds is expected to begin within the next two weeks, officials said.

The Environmental Protection Agency first tested soil in the Tar Creek area last year.

Testing at Miami parks and baseball fields showed contamination by mine waste taken from the nation's No. 1 Superfund site. The EPA said in June that lead levels in most of the soil samples taken from parks and alleys were above acceptable standards _ in some cases six to nine times higher.

Testing of 1,800 Miami children found 3 to 4 percent of them with blood-lead levels in excess of national standards. Lead exposure can damage developing nervous systems, causing problems such as learning disabilities and lower IQs.

Officials said the source of the contamination is lead-heavy mining waste, commonly called chat.

It was taken from a nearby former lead and zinc mining area that now makes up the Tar Creek Superfund Site, and used for years in the construction of Miami parks and streets before its dangers became known.

The second round of tests in Miami will be more comprehensive than the first, said City Manager Michael Spurgeon.

The first soil samples were taken in areas where chat was visible.

The city has approved access to all city parks for the follow-up sampling. Crews also are expected to test school grounds and will seek permission to take samples at the city's daycare centers.

The EPA is concentrating the tests on areas where children play.