EPA says it will do more cleanup of lead-contaminated yards in East Helena
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will do additional cleanup of residential yards in East Helena that have been contaminated by lead.
The EPA’s new decision lowers the amount of lead in soil required to trigger a cleanup.
In a statement, the agency said a “better understanding” of the health effects of lead exposure motivated the update.
The agency has already replaced soil in hundreds of yards contaminated by a lead smelting plant that operated in the town for over a century.
Officials at the East Helena and Butte superfund sites said they are assessing new national guidance that could further lower residential cleanup requirements in both communities.
The number of children in Butte who have elevated blood lead levels has dropped more than 25% in the last 20 years, according to a study that was presented to the community last week.
Lead contamination and exposure in Montana go back several decades. But the data do not. Without more information, state and local health departments have no way of knowing how many people have been affected and the extent of the impact.
For one Montana family, lead contamination in their home brought on what one parent describes as the “biggest trial we’ve ever been through.”
In Montana, there’s a new state requirement to test all K-12 schools for lead in water fixtures. Outdated and deteriorating plumbing infrastructure is a primary source of lead exposure, and young children under six years of age are particularly vulnerable.
Of the Montana schools that have met the state's program deadline, most show high levels of lead in school drinking water.
The first school to submit its results under Montana’s new lead monitoring program tested positive for lead.