LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Residents who live, work and attend school near a Vernon battery recycling plant are being offered free blood testing to detect possible lead poisoning.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials made the announcement on Wednesday in the wake of increased fears over reported arsenic and lead leaks from the Exide Technologies facility at 2700 South Indiana Street.
The confidential testing will begin on April 7 and will continue through the end of September.
The announcement came after the California Department of Toxic Substance Control found concentrations of lead above the state’s recommended levels following soil testing at homes, schools, and parks located near the plant.
Although state and county health officials do not consider the soil findings alarming, officials say they do warrant further testing and urge community members to take full advantage of the screenings.
“There are many sources of lead in our daily environment,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer.
“However, it is clear that Exide Technologies has emitted unacceptably high levels of lead and other toxic chemicals into the surrounding communities for years. Given the history of repeated violations at this facility, it is hard to understand why Exide Technologies has been allowed to continue operation before the State has made a final determination to either issue or deny the facility’s operating permit,” Fielding said.
State regulators forced the plant to temporarily shut down last year after an emergency order citing air and ground pollution violations was issued and the approximately 110,000 residents living in Boyle Heights, Maywood and Huntington Park were warned they may have been exposed to dangerous levels of the chemicals.
Exide Technologies – which was operated for decades on a temporary permit before being deemed a public health hazard by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control – was allowed to reopen in June.
Public Health officials said residents may call (844) 888-2290 beginning April 7 for more information regarding blood lead screenings or to request lab requisition forms to be mailed to their homes.
Screenings will be provided by appointment or walk-in at Quest Diagnostics Laboratory facilities.
An informational meeting will be held on April 3 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, located at 5757 Telegraph Road in Commerce.