Officials plan to hold a community meeting next week to discuss elevated levels of lead found in soil at homes and a preschool near a battery recycling plant in southeast Los Angeles.
The findings have prompted officials to issue health precautions and order expanded testing in more neighborhoods.
State officials said the initial testing of 39 homes and apartments as well as two schools concerned them enough that they ordered Exide Technologies to create a plan for more testing and to protect children and pregnant women living in the area.
This marks the first time the state has found widespread ground contamination in residential areas near Exide. The testing occurred this year in Boyle Heights and Maywood.
The state found that every home tested had lead contamination in the soil that exceeded California’s screening level of 80 parts per million. One home in Boyle Heights had samples above 580 parts per million.
The preschool, which is farther north, was at 95 parts per million.
The pollution is a concern for children and pregnant woman, officials said. They were calling residents Monday to tell them to stay away from bare soil, wash their hands and grow vegetables only in raised beds.
“This is not an emergency situation, but we are still concerned and demanding that Exide take actions to protect public health,” said Brian Johnson, deputy director of the California Department of Toxic Substance Control.
Officials plan to hold the community meeting March 19 at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights.
Exide has been the subject of much debate in the year since the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a study showing that the plant’s arsenic emissions posed a danger to more than 100,000 nearby residents.
Exide also been cited repeatedly for releasing unsafe levels of lead into the air. Testing did not show elevated levels of arsenic in any of the yards.