April 12, 2003 at 2:22 AM CDT - Updated June 20 at 7:45 PM
Better Lead Test Results for Herculaneum Kids By: Kate Scott
(Herculaneum, MO)--There's some good news for a town once weighed-down by lead problems.
Controversy swirled around the Doe Run Lead Smelter in Herculaneum after testing in 2001 showed that many of the town's children had lead poisioning. Herculaneum kids were retested in 2002, and those newly-released results look much better.
In 2001, 28-percent of the Herculaneum kids under six that were tested showed high lead blood levels. In 2002, that number was down to 14-percent.
In kids who live within three-eighths of a mile from the smelter, nearly half who were tested showed lead poisoning in 2001. A year later, only 17-percent of kids tested from the same area had too much lead in their system. Lead can cause all kinds of developmental problems in young children, and health problems in people of all ages.
So what do these numbers mean for Herculaneum? The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which conducted the tests, says it could mean that the efforts Doe Run took to clean up its lead smelter are really working. After those first frightening test results came out, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the EPA required the smelter to make changes to reduce its lead emissions in the air, and to clean up the contaminated streets, yards, and homes of the town. The Doe Run Company also offered buyouts to the homes nearest to the smelter, where children were in the most danger.
Of course, that being the case, many of the kids who were first tested in 2001 had moved and were not retested in 2002. That could also be part of the reason the results were so much better this time