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ATSDR Releases Public Health Assessment Concerning Lead for the Omaha Lead Site, Omaha, Neb.
Douglas County, Omaha, Nebraska
Monday, June 07, 2004
ATLANTA - The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, today is issuing for public review and comment a public health assessment for the Omaha Lead site, Omaha, Neb. The site is on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) and ATSDR is required by Congress to conduct public health assessments on all sites proposed to the NPL. The public health assessment was completed to evaluate whether past, current, or future exposures at the Omaha Lead Site are causing harm to persons living in or near the site.
The Omaha Lead site includes residential properties, childcare facilities, schools, and other properties in the city of Omaha. Those properties have been contaminated with lead from air emissions from lead-refining operations, which operated from the 1870s until 1997, and other sources, including lead-based paint. The 8,840-acre site area extends south from Ames Avenue to L Street and eastward from 45th Street to the Missouri River, excluding the central business district. ATSDR's evaluation of the 2000 Census data indicates that about 86,000 residents live within the identified site area. Of these, 9,700 are children 6 and younger.
ATSDR reviewed blood lead testing results for about 12,800 children, soil lead data for about 15,000 properties, and various exposure scenarios.
On the basis of that review, ATSDR determined the following:
- The ongoing exposure to lead of children under 6 years old living in or near the Omaha Lead initial site investigation area puts them at risk of lead-related health effects.
- From July 2000 through August 2002, nearly 300 children living in or near the Omaha Lead site were reported with blood lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) or greater. The majority of these children had blood lead levels between 10 µg/dL and 40 µg/dL and may be at risk for decreases in IQ, slightly impaired hearing and growth, and problems metabolizing vitamin D.
- For the Omaha Lead site area, 9.7% of children had blood lead levels of 10 µg/dL or greater compared to 2.0% and 3.1% for Nebraska and the United States, respectively.
- Children living in the Omaha Lead site area are exposed to two major sources of lead-lead-based paint and past emissions from the ASARCO refinery. More than 60% of the homes in the site area likely have lead-based paint. Over 40% of the properties tested in the site area had at least one sample above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action level of 400 ppm. The mean soil lead level for the Omaha Lead site area was 437 parts per million (ppm).
ATSDR recommends the following:
- The county, state and federal agencies involved with this situation should develop a plan concerning lead hazards that would increase public knowledge regarding lead hazards, promote primary prevention activities, and promote and facilitate yearly blood lead testing for all children 6 years and under living in or near the Omaha Lead initial site investigation area.
- This plan should include aggressive blood lead testing of young children to increase the likelihood of identifying children currently exposed. This would allow timely interventions such as mitigation of lead-based paint and cleanup of contaminated soil.
The health assessment is available for public review and comment from June 7 through August 6 at these three library locations in Omaha:
W. Dale Clark Library
215 S. 15th St.
South Omaha Branch
Omaha Public Library
2302 M St.
Omaha Public Library
2868 Ames Ave.
A copy of the PHA can be downloaded from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/omahalead/pdfnote.html.
Comments on the public health assessment must be made in writing. Mail comments to
Chief, Program Evaluation, Records and Information Services Branch
1600 Clifton Road, N.E. (MS E-60)
Atlanta, GA 30333
Comments received during the public comment period will be logged in to the ATSDR administrative record for this health assessment. Comments received, without the names of individuals who submitted them, and ATSDR responses to the comments will appear in an appendix to the final public health assessment. Names of those who submit comments, however, will be subject to release for requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
For more information, community members can contact Senior Environmental Epidemiologist John Crellin or Environmental Health Scientist Annmarie DePasquale toll-free at 1-888-422-8737. Regional Representative Sue Casteel also may be contacted at 913-551-1312. Callers should refer to the Omaha Lead site in Omaha, Neb.
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