Lead Contamination Near L.A. County Battery Recycling Plant

In March of last year, a L.A. County battery recycling plant that had long emitted dangerous pollutants was closed. Before the Exide Technologies plant shut down, as many as 10,000 homes were contaminated with poisonous lead. The California Department of Toxic Substance has done a survey of 1,000 properties in the surrounding neighborhoods and found that all contained lead contamination in varying degrees.

Children suffer the most from toxic lead contamination. Analysis by the state Department of Health revealed that 3.58% of young children within a mile of the lead recycling plant had an elevated level of toxic metal in their blood, as compared to children who lived farther away from the plant. This high level of toxic lead mixing in the blood can cause learning disabilities and other developmental problems.

To clean up such a large-scale contamination will take years and cost millions of dollars. Communities affected by the contamination are understandably angry that state regulators did not act sooner to stop the plant. The plant operated for 33 years without a full permit, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control did little to act on the more than 100 violations reported by inspectors until 2013.

What can this case tell us about lead poisoning? In part, it shows that we must take responsibility for our neighborhood’s safety by preemptively removing potential sources of lead and other toxins. The simplest method for preventing lead poisoning in particular is the removal of lead-based paint, a service Brickley Environmental provides to homes and workplaces in the Southern California area.

Brickley Environmental is a leading environmental remediation company with 30 years of experience providing expert lead-based paint abatement services. Our highly experienced senior team handles every single project, meeting or exceeding all regulations and laws. With us, you will see the difference between licensed professionals and unsafe remediation.

7 Surprising Places Lead Could Be Lurking

Lead and lead poisoning are serious dangers, with symptoms ranging from developmental issues to death. There is no such thing as a safe level of lead in an environment, and yet, lead is prevalent in many homes, whether the owners know it or not. Lead exposure is often impossible to reverse, so being on the offensive and finding lead before it takes its toll is the best way to combat it. Here are seven places your home could be harboring dangerous lead:

1. In the dust – It sounds like a bad horror film premise, but it’s true. Lead from lead-based paint could be in the dust of your home. Mopping and dusting as regularly as possible is the best way to prevent these lead particles from poisoning the people living in your home.

2. Paint – Lead paint may not have been used for decades in your home, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a danger. Peeling, blistering, or cracking paint could be exposing the inhabitants of your home to lead. The best way to prevent this kind of exposure is to work with a painter who is experienced with lead remediation.

3. In toys and costume jewelry – Especially in old toys and costume jewelry, lead paint might have been used as coloring. Replace these items with newer ones, produced in the USA.

4. Astroturf – Yes, your Astroturf may be harboring lead, especially if the turf is very old. The best way to avoid this? Have the turf removed and replaced by real grass.

5. Mexican candy – Recent studies have found that some candies imported from Mexico have high levels of lead. Where is the lead coming from? From the ingredients used to make the candy, specifically when they are dried and ground. Avoiding this type of candy can prevent exposure.

6. Water – Water that is piped through old plumbing has likely been exposed to lead solder. It is even possible that the water sources themselves have been contaminated. Using a filter on your tap that removes lead (and other contaminants) from the water is the best course of action.

7. Ceramics and Pyrex – Lead was often used in glazes for ceramics and in the production of Pyrex. Especially if either of these items are more than twenty years old, it is likely they were made with lead.

Lead Dangers Lurk in Unexpected Places

Lead exposure isn’t something that most people worry about today. A century ago, maybe, but not today. What most people don’t know, however, is that lead is still surprisingly common and hides in places you might not expect. Recent lead paint scares, for example, have shown that lead is still widely used today and that a dangerous dose is not actually that difficult to come by. Here are seven places lead may be lurking and what to do about it:

  1. Brass plumbing – If you live in a home built before 1986, you probably have lead in your plumbing. Even if you live in a home built after 1986, you might still be in dangers, as anything made of metal that is less than 8% lead can be labeled as lead-free. You’re going to want to test your water for lead and if you test positively, invest in a filter. 
  1. Lead in your bones – Sounds like science fiction, but if you’ve been exposed to lead, your body might be storing it in your bones and it is probably cycling regularly through your blood. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium, as long as that calcium supplement isn’t made from bone.
  1. Renovating your home – Lead paint is common in homes built before 1978, so if you’re doing a renovation, it’s possible to expose yourself to lead dust. If you’re doing major construction, you want to properly protect yourself and maybe even consider sealing off the work area. 
  1. Ceramic dishes – Anything made before 1960 out of ceramic probably has at least a little bit of lead in it. Test your ceramic dishes or switch over to another material to protect yourself.
  1. Community gardens – Because paint chips sometimes make their way into the soil used for community gardens, it’s possible that the soil contains lead. Use topsoil and compost to neutralize it and make sure the pH levels are above 6.5, as that will keep the plants from soaking up too much lead.
  1. Hunting and fishing – If you hunt your own game with lead bullets, you might be eating lead leached from that bullet into the meat. Additionally, fish can sometimes contain high levels of lead, picked up from lures or just from lead-contaminated water. To prevent this, use lead-free bullets when hunting and use sinkers and lures that do not contain lead.
  1. Paint, clay, and chalk – Many art supplies contain lead, which is supposed to improve the brightness of paint, clay, and chalk colors, especially the reds, oranges, greens, and blues. Shiny glazes for pottery are one of the main culprits of lead. To protect yourself, only buy lead-free art supplies and make sure your work space is well ventilated.