Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Arsenic ate their Homework

I love my wife more than I hate the local FOX newsreaders. She likes to watch the weather. I wince at the news oozing from the scrunchy, sincere faces. Aresenic has been found in soil in Minneapolis. I saw the picture of the woman with the baby, worried about "our neighborhoods being safe". Arsenic, FOX said, can cause problems/effects from "...(something mild) to death."

"How much arsenic is in the soils?" I shouted. "What is the acceptable level?", I yelled. (The 'appropriate level'?) "How much soil would someone have to eat to kill themselves?", we wondered.

"Brer FOX, he lay low. De reporters, day say nuttin."

Here's a wee bit of information from the EPA. Note the bolds. I quote:

EPA schedules three neighborhood meetings for South Minneapolis soil contamination site

Release date: 09/12/2006

Contact Information: Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050,

CONTACT: Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050, hans.mick@epa.govFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 06-OPA161
EPA schedules three neighborhood meetings for South Minneapolis soil contamination site

CHICAGO (Sept. 11, 2006) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has scheduled three open-house-style neighborhood meetings to answer questions and update residents about the ongoing South Minneapolis Soil Contamination sampling and cleanup project. About 3,000 properties have been tested for arsenic this year. Preliminary data received so far has shown at least 130 properties may contain arsenic in the soil above EPA's 95 parts per million safety level. EPA began sending results letters to residents in August. This process will continue through September.

Meetings will be held:
Tuesday, Sept. 19, 6 to 8 p.m., Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave., S.
Wednesday, Sept. 20, 6 to 8 p.m., YWCA, 2121 E. Lake St.
Thursday, Sept. 21, 6 to 8 p.m., Franklin Avenue Safety Center, 1201 E. Franklin Ave.

On a separate track, EPA and its partner agencies have begun the process of determining how much health risk the arsenic contamination poses to neighborhood residents. A public meeting to discuss this in more detail and answer questions will be held Tuesday, Sept. 26, 7 to 9 p.m., at the YWCA.

Poking around my Google search results, I find this post on the blog of "Cam Gordon, 2nd Ward (Green) City Council member".

I quote, "The risk assessment is how the EPA will determine what minimum level of arsenic contamination they will clean up. Arsenic in soil is generally measured in parts per million (ppm). The EPA is currently cleaning up yards where they find 95 ppm or higher.

Having studied reports from the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, I believe that 10ppm is the very least we should be cleaning up, if not lower. The MPCA recently downgraded the level of arsenic in soil that they consider to be a chronic risk to children from 10ppm to 5ppm. MDH considers 10ppm an acute risk to kids with pica (an eating disorder marked by eating dirt, which is linked to poverty).

I join Environmental Justice Advocates of MN, SNG Environment Committee, the Sierra Club Northstar Chapter and others in calling for the EPA to clean up soil contamination above 10ppm."

How widespread is dirt eating in Minneapolis? What do they substitute for dirt in the winter?

I must go. More anon. I'm going to look for data on exposure.

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