NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- At least 37 New Orleans city parks are located where tests have found lead in soil at levels state and federal regulators define as dangerous, researchers say.
Recent tests at one local park found 13 of 40 samples above the 400 parts-per-million threshold, creating widespread concern among residents and leading to action by the city, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Tuesday.
Mickey Markey Park in the Bywater neighborhood has been closed to the public while a cleanup is carried out, and officials said a city contractor would recommend a plan to identify other city parks with dangerously high lead levels.
"What we believe is that where kids may be exposed in an area that the city has responsibility for, like a playground, we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to understand what that risk might be and to remediate it," city Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo said.
The park-testing plan will focus on parks in areas with historically high levels of lead, those hosting active recreation programs or in neighborhoods with children whose test results show high lead levels, DeSalvo said.
A spokeswoman for the environmental group NOLA Unleaded says the city should go beyond the 400 parts per million EPA standard for lead in soil.
"They're basing their cleanup on 400 parts per million, which is the federal standard," says Nabil Baddour, who used to be in the city's lead prevention program and is now with Nola Unleaded. "But Minnesota has a standard of 100 parts per million, and California has a standard of 80 parts per million, and the Dutch have a standard of 40 parts per million."
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