WASHINGTON, April 20 (UPI) -- Neighborhoods near former U.S. lead factories have dirt so contaminated with lead dust children should not be playing in it, an investigation found.
A series of soil tests conducted by USA Today found potentially dangerous lead levels in parts of all 21 neighborhoods examined across 13 states, in some areas as much as five to 10 times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous to children, the newspaper reported Friday.
"You're living here and you have no idea of what's really in your ground, what's in your back yard," Kathleen Marshall, who lives with her toddler Kevin in Philadelphia, said. "It's just kind of scary to think that you're sending your kids out to play in an area that's hazardous."
Marshall's neighborhood was one of the areas showing elevated levels of lead, USA Today said.
The EPA will "review USA Today's information to determine what steps can be taken to ensure Americans are not being exposed to dangerous levels of lead," Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus said in a statement.
Studies have shown lead poisoning lowers intelligence and reduces academic achievement, delays puberty and causes other health problems, USA Today said.