Lead in their own backyards

September 4, 2009 3:55:01 PM PDT
Just imagine how people are reacting. They were told on Friday that backyards could be hazardous to the health of their children.

The warning to a group of residents in the Port Richmond section who live where a former lead manufacturing plant once stood.

Now, the lead is seeping into yards.

"You think you have a dream home and it turns out to be a deathtrap," Laura Yearwood said.

Yearwood raised five children here. Jason Santiago has a newborn. Bobby Andrews had a vegetable garden and ate everything that grew. "I ate it and we had lead," Andrews said. "You got all these people have to be tested."

At least a dozen homes, many with young children, have soil in their yards with high concentrations of lead.

A toxic chemical may have seeped into the ground from a vacant lot just down the street where a 19th century factory once manufactured lead.

Inspectors with the environmental protection agency took samples this summer and mailed out the results.

"What these levels show is the need to take precautions. If children regularly play... there is an increased risk they could develop elevated levels of lead in their blood," the letter reads.

It is a letter that Laura Yearwood wishes she would have gotten years ago, before she let her children play in their yard.

Now she wonders about the mysterious rashes her children had and why she developed a brain tumor last year.

With another generation of children growing-up here, many parents say the next step is to get out.

FOLLOW N.J. BURKETT ON TWITTER


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