CLEVELAND -- "Hazardously high." That's how the Ohio EPA described the severity of the lead contamination that has settled into the backyards of those who live near the old Tyroler Metals smelter factory.
Saturday afternoon, city officials set their sights on those most vulnerable to lead poisoning by offering free lead screenings to kids under the age of 6.
A mobile unit was up and operational at three separate locations.
Antonette Stover brought her four children to be tested. She says her kids spend a lot of time playing outside.
"They love the dirt, always playing in it and making mud pies and everything," Stover said.
But what's in and around the ground they play on, is now at the forefront of city leaders' minds.
"When theres dust blowing in a neighborhood we want to know what's in it," said Public Health Director Karen Butler.
What the EPA found back in 2003 was concerning. Nine of the twelve samples tested had lead levels two and, in some cases, five times the what is deemed to be safe.
The contamination is believed to have been caused in part by old smelter factories. Stover has made getting her kids tested for lead poisoning a priority.
"My son he was a little above when he was younger," Stover said.
The effects of lead poisoning range, but symptoms can sometimes go unnoticed by parents.
But it was more than just a quick pinch. It was a chance to talk with parents about the importance of testing and how to minimize the risks.
There are quite a few things you can do to minimize your exposure.
- Wet mop floors will keep dust from accumulating,
- Take your shoes off when you come into your home to keep from tracking dust and contaminants,
- Wash toys often
- Also, make sure your kids are washing their hands.
The city has formed a Lead Taskforce Team, and is doing its own testing on air and soil quality.