Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Orleans parks: Dangerous Levels of Lead

How about your neighborhood or community?

New Orleans parks rooted in areas containing dangerous levels of lead

Ted Jackson, The Times-Picayune TED JACKSON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE: Workers spread gravel and soil next to a mosaic laid down near the park's sign post, part of lead remediation work being done by Materials Management Group at Markey Park in the Bywater area of New Orleans Monday, February 7, 2011. The work begins by laying down a layer of geotextile, a fabric that allows water to pass down but blocks particulates to rise up. Next comes a layer of gravel and sand, finished off by sod for the playground surface.

February 08, 2011 - At least 37 New Orleans city parks are located in census tracts where tests conducted in 2000 found levels of lead in soil of more than 400 parts per million, the level state and federal regulators define as dangerous.

But parks generally have lower lead levels than most soils in the areas where they’re located, according to Tulane Center for Bioenvironmental Research toxicologist Howard Mielke, who did the 2000 testing. That’s because the two major sources of lead in soils are dust and chips from lead paint used in old homes and other buildings, as well as dust containing lead from leaded gasoline.

As a result, children are more often exposed to lead in their own homes and yards, or at day-care centers in older buildings, than they are in parks, he said.

Nonetheless, recent tests at Bywater’s Mickey Markey Park, where 13 of 40 samples came in above the 400 parts-per-million threshold, have prompted widespread concern among residents and has led city officials to take action. The park has been padlocked while a remediation plan is carried out. This week, a city contractor will recommend a plan for identifying other parks with unacceptably high lead levels. {continued}

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