VERNON ( — People who live near the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon met at a community forum Thursday evening.

KCAL9’s Juan Fernandez said residents who live within a two-mile radius of the plant were encouraged to sign up for free blood tests that would check for possible lead poisoning.

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Reported Fernandez, “Exide knows people have concerns and they want to be good neighbors.”

Ayde Bravo is one of the concerned neighbors.

“My biggest concern is the teachers, the students … the people who have been exposed, possibly exposed, to these contaminants and that’s why I am here,” said Bravo.

She was one of many who came to the meeting held at the Double Tree Hotel near the Citadel.

Exide told the residents they would be happy to pay for the blood tests.

“They’re being pressured to do this,” said Bravo, “But it’s the right thing to do.”

Eleanor Gatica lives in nearby Maywood but she told Fernandez she also came to the meeting for answers.

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“I have been diagnosed twice within ten years with cancer,” said Gatica. “After 40 years, it’s very hard at my age. How am I going to start over?”

Resident Maria Cervantes told Fernandez she also has questions.

Cervantes also has a mysterious medical condition.

“It just came out of nowhere. It just appeared. It got to the point I almost had a heart attack. That’s why it’s really important for me to find out if this [plant] had anything to do with that,” she said.

The LA County Department of Health wants to stress that even if people test positive for excess lead levels in their blood, it doesn’t mean it came from Exide Technologies.

“When you test anybody for lead, you can’t use the test alone for what the source for lead is,” said Cyrus Rangan of the LA Dept of Public Health. “There are still many many other sources, especially in an area like Los Angeles with many rapidly emerging sources.”

Exide has agreed to pay for 30,000 tests for people who live within a two-mile radius.

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Fernandez reports the 2-mile radius would encompass Soto to the west, Eastern to the east, the 60 Freeway to the north and Gage Avenue to the south.