Testing, Cleanup in Contaminated Park Continues

WTOC first brought you the story of lead and arsenic contamination at the Beasley Park and at East Broad Elementary School playground more than a month ago. The testing has been going on ever since, and there's still more to be done.

"Anyone that wanted to allay their fears or see if their children or themselves might have been exposed to lead at some point in time can get a screening done," said program manager Susan Melone.

Even though health officials say there's really no cause for parents to be alarmed, they do say even the smallest amounts of lead poisoning can cause some serious problems.

"The problem with lead, if you have very low levels of toxicity in the body, it can cause hidden problems like attention deficit disorder or learning disabilities or hyper activity," said the health department's Jim Drinnon. "Of course, as the levels of lead go up in the body as you absorb more lead, it can become toxic."

But for now, the toxicity of the lead found here has been relatively low. "Testing at the school came back negative and whatever they found and not found, they have not made any recommendations for us to screen any folks," said Melone.

But the health department is not taking any chances, so it's offering free lead screenings. "I would be concerned, but not worried or alarmed," said Drinnon. "Whenever there's a toxic material in the community, you need to be concerned, but at this point, the exposure to it is so very, very low it really doesn't pose an immediate threat to the children."

But just to be safe, these areas will remain closed until the testing is complete and the contamination is cleaned up. The county estimates the contaminated areas to be cleaned up by the end of next month.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com