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ATSDR Press Room

ATSDR Finds Arsenic in Some East Omaha Yards

Douglas County, Omaha, Nebraska

Monday, November 07, 2005

Elevated levels of arsenic were found at more than 700 properties in East Omaha, Neb., says a report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). High levels of arsenic might pose a health concern for some children and adults.

The public health consultation titled Arsenic in Soil in East Omaha, Nebraska, presents ATSDR findings about the site, and offers recommendations to protect health and prevent exposure.

Arsenic levels above 70 parts per million (ppm) are considered elevated; exposure at these levels are a concern for preschool children who eat soil while playing, this is called soil-pica behavior. After eating about one teaspoon of soil with high levels of arsenic, children may become sick. Also, adults who are exposed to elevated levels of arsenic in soil over several decades might have an increased risk for cancer of the skin, lungs, bladder, kidney and liver.

In its health consultation, ATSDR makes the following recommendations:

  • Identify children with soil-pica behavior and prevent them from eating soil.
  • Do not eat or drink when gardening or playing outside.
  • Wet-mop floors and clean window sills with wet rags.
  • Leave shoes at the door.
  • Wash your hands and children's hands often.

Persons living on or owning property with a yard-wide average arsenic level above 70 ppm have received letters. ATSDR will hold community meetings in Omaha to discuss the health consultation. During these meetings ATSDR representatives will meet one-on-one with residents to address their questions and concerns. The meeting dates, times and locations follow:

Nov. 15
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
South High School
4519 S. 24th Street

Nov. 17
12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Teacher Administration Building
3215 Cumming Street

Nov. 17
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
North High School
4410 North 36th Street

Nov. 19
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Juan Diego Center, Catholic Charities
5211 S. 31st Street

The health consultation, fact sheets and other information about the site are available online at Copies of the consultation are also available at the following locations:

  • South Branch Library, 2302 M St., Omaha, NE
  • W. Dale Clark Library, 215 S. 15th St., Omaha, NE
  • Charles B. Washington Branch Library 4401 N. 21st St., Omaha, NE
  • Chicano Awareness Center, 4821 S. 24th St., Omaha, NE
  • Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition, 2240 Landon Ct., Omaha, NE
  • Southern Sudan Community Association , 4819 Dodge St., Omaha, NE
  • Fred LeRoy-Ponca Tribe, 2602 J St., Omaha, NE
  • Voices for Children in Nebraska, 7521 Main St., Suite 103, Omaha, NE
  • Hope Medical Service, 2566 Saint Mary's Ave., Omaha, NE
  • Juan Diego Center Catholic Charities, 5211 S. 31st St., Omaha, NE
  • Catholic Charities, 300 N. 60th St., Omaha, NE
  • Iglesia de Dios-Fraternidad Cristiana, 1001 N. Fort Crook Rd. Suites 119-120, Bellevue, NE
  • EPA Region 7 Records Center, 901 N. 5th St Kansas City, KS

Members of the community who have questions about this health consultation or ATSDR activities at East Omaha Arsenic Site may contact Health Communications Specialist Yolanda Freeman or Toxicologist Dr. David Mellard, toll-free, at 1-888-422-8737. ATSDR Regional Representative Sue Casteel can also be contacted at 913-551-1314.

ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evaluates the human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances.

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Related News Releases For Douglas County, Omaha, Nebraska


ATSDR Releases Cancer Data Review for Omaha Lead Site
Release Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will release its Cancer Data Review tomorrow at the Omaha Lead Site Community Advisory Group (OLS CAG) meeting. The review found that, in some cases, the rates of new cancer cases in the Omaha Lead Site differ from new cancer rates in Douglas County and Nebraska.

ATSDR Releases Findings for Omaha Lead Site
Release Date: Monday, May 09, 2005
Ongoing exposure to lead in children 6 years of age and younger living in or near the Omaha Lead site in Douglas County, Neb., is a public health hazard, says the public health assessment released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Former Western Minerals Products Employees Exposed to Asbestos; ATSDR Releases Public Health Consultation
Release Date: Friday, October 29, 2004
Employees at Western Minerals Products site in Omaha, Neb., from the 1940s to 1989 were exposed to asbestos at levels that exceeded workplace health standards, says a public health consultation released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Those who lived with former workers also were potentially exposed to asbestos.

Omaha Lead Refinery Site Health Assessment in Nebraska
Release Date: Wednesday, June 16, 2004
A public availability session will be held in Omaha, Neb., to discuss the public health assessment (PHA) on the Omaha Lead Refinery site in Omaha, Neb. ATSDR recently issued the PHA for public review and comment. The agency finds the exposure to lead by children under 6 who live in or near the site puts them at risk of lead-related health effects

ATSDR Releases Public Health Assessment Concerning Lead for the Omaha Lead Site, Omaha, Neb.
Release Date: Monday, June 07, 2004
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.

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