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The Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR) was requested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IV to determine whether organized sports, including youth football, should be allowed at the Emmett Reed Park in Jacksonville, Florida.

Emmett Reed Park is located at the corner of 5th street and Cleveland Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida. This area was the site of a municipal waste incinerator from 1943 to 1969. Ash from the incinerator was disposed throughout a 36-acre area near the facility. The City of Jacksonville's Emmett Reed recreation facility is located near the site of the former incinerator. The facility contains an indoor activity center, playground, and outdoor basketball and baseball fields (1).

Several investigations have detected the presence of lead and other ash-associated contaminants at the 5th and Cleveland Incinerator site (1). EPA (Region 4) conducted a remedial investigation of the incinerator site in 2001. Lead levels in surface soils at the Emmett Reed facility exceeded the 400 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) screening level at three locations in and adjacent to the baseball field (2). As a result, the City of Jacksonville covered the affected areas of the field with clean soil as a temporary measure (2).


The Emmett Reed grounds are currently open to park visitors for informal recreation. The City of Jacksonville currently does not permit organized sports at the Emmett Reed grounds on the basis that this type activity will result in high usage of specific areas and thereby result degradation of the clean cover (3). County Health Department personnel have observed that some clean cover areas have been thinned from routine use to the extent that additional soil cover was required (3).


Children play at the Emmett Reed facility. This is of concern because lead, the principle site contaminant, is particularly harmful to children. The playground portion of the Emmett Reed Park does not contain ash contamination (2). The City of Jacksonville's application of temporary soil provides a barrier to prevent exposure to the incinerator ash contaminants, at portions of the park which contain incineration ash. However, this barrier is an interim measure which requires periodic inspection to insure the integrity of the soil cover. The activity of organized sports, particularly football, on a regular scheduled basis could greatly accelerate the degradation of the soil cover barrier.


ATSDR believes that interim control measures at the Emmett Reed Park are sufficient to prevent exposure to subsurface contaminants, including lead and other ash-related compounds, during informal recreation activities provided that periodic inspections of the soil barrier are performed. However, use of the Emmett Reed Park for organized sports could lead to the accelerated degradation of the temporary soil barrier.


ATSDR recommends that the City of Jacksonville continue their prohibition of scheduled organized sports at the Emmett Reed Park until permanent exposure control measures are implemented.


  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Florida NPL/NPL caliber cleanup site summaries. Jacksonville ash sites. Atlanta: US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 4). Available at: URL:

  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Jacksonville ash site. Forest street incinerator, 5th & Cleveland, Lonnie C. Miller Sr. park, remedial investigation report, CH2Hill. Atlanta: US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 4) 2000 Nov.

  3. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR record of activity for telephone. communication with David Jones, Duval County Health Department. Atlanta, Georgia. October 20, 2003.


Peter J. Kowalski, MPH, CIH
Environmental Health Scientist
Exposure Investigations and Consultations Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Reviewer of Report:

Deputy Branch Chief
Exposure Investigations and Consultations Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

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