Children’s teeth near Exide’s Vernon recycling plant contain lead

Children’s teeth near Exide’s Vernon recycling plant contain lead

Children’s teeth near Exide’s Vernon recycling plant contain lead 300 168 Batteries International

May 9, 2019: Lead has been found in the baby teeth of children living near Exide Technologies’ battery recycling plant in Vernon, California, a report by the University of California published on May 6 has shown.

Dubbed the ‘Truth Fairy’, the report, officially called Lead and Arsenic in Deciduous Teeth of Children Living Near a Lead-Acid Battery Smelter, was published in Environmental Science and Technology.

The study said a ‘positive significant relationship between prenatal teeth Pb per 100 ppm and increase in soil Pb’ had been observed.

“Measuring Pb and As in shed deciduous teeth is a promising technique to assess prenatal and early life exposure,” the report says. “In this pilot study, 50 shed deciduous teeth from 43 children living their entire lives within two miles of the smelter were analyzed to understand retrospective exposure to toxic metals using a community-driven research approach,” the report said.

“We found the higher the level of lead in the soil, the higher the amount of lead in baby teeth,” said first author Jill Johnston, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of California. “There’s no safe level of lead; it’s a potent neurotoxin.”

Using laser ablation — removing materials by layer with a laser beam — the researchers were able to look at each layer of the teeth and give timings down to which trimester of pregnancy the teeth were contaminated.

“The teeth findings were matched with soil contamination data from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which collected 117,256 samples from the upper layers of soil on nearly 8,000 properties,” a separate report written by Leigh Hopper, of the USC, said.

“Researchers found the median concentration of lead in soil was 190 parts per million, well above the state of California threshold of 80 parts per million. Fourteen per cent of soil samples exceeded 400 ppm.”

The Vernon plant was closed down in 2015 and a clean-up operation launched, which continues. Some 2,500 properties in a 1.7-mile radius will be cleaned up over a two-year period — the largest clean-up of its kind in California, according to the Department of Toxic Substances Control director, Barbara Lee.

Exide gave the following statement to BESB:

Exide just learned of the USC study today and is currently evaluating it.

As we have previously stated, we will continue to be a constructive participant in evaluating and addressing the need for clean-up of industrial and residential properties to the extent they were impacted by the facility’s former operations.

However, there are many significant historical sources for contaminants in urban soils in Southeast Los Angeles County communities, including lead-based paint chips from the predominantly older homes, decades of concentrated vehicle leaded gasoline exhaust from numerous freeways and thoroughfares, and many other industrial sources in the area. In a previous study conducted by the California Department of Public Health (April 2016), the most important predictor of elevated blood lead levels in the area was age of housing.

There has only been one scientific study released to date examining lead levels in residential soils in the communities closest to Vernon. That study determined that the area of impact from the Vernon Facility above urban background levels is confined to the industrial areas surrounding the facility and does not reach residential areas.

The study, which was provided by Exide to the DTSC in August of 2015, and was posted on the DTSC’s website, entitled Statistical Analysis of Soil Lead Concentrations in Vernon CA (hhttps://dtsc.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/03/Final-Exide-Statistical-Analysis-Report_081415-1.pdf), was prepared by Dr Mitchell J. Small and Dr Stephen M. Rose of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Exide remains fully committed to working with the State and the DTSC on continued review of this matter, as well as our continued implementation of the Vernon facility closure along with funding of ongoing blood testing in the area.