The City of Medford, while planning the construction of a gravel wetland on the northern most point of the Riverbend Park, commissioned a Licensed Site Professional (LSP) to conduct soil testing. This testing resulted in the discovery of lead levels from approximately 2-5 ft. below surface level. Based on the analysis and in conjunction with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), further surface testing was conducted. Various reportable levels of lead as well as limited areas with elevated arsenic levels were shown.
The area in question consists of the land located south of the Riverside Yacht Club and continuing along the Mystic River ending at the paved pathway.
When the City of Medford received the soil test results from the LSP the City notified the DEP. Mayor Stephanie Burke communicated with Commissioner Roy of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. After speaking with him, Mayor Burke directed the appropriate City department heads to work in conjunction with state agencies to prepare an action plan that meets all state and federal standards.
According to Mary Ann O’Connor, Director of Public Health, “this discovery of lead contamination is currently being evaluated from a public health perspective. Danger from lead would be caused by swallowing contaminated soil or breathing lead dust. This is minimized as the area in question is predominately covered by vegetation. It is always good practice to wash hands and anything that may encounter bare soil. This is especially important for young children who are at the greatest risk for lead exposure.”
“The health and well-being of all residents is always a paramount concern,” said Mayor Burke. “We will continue to monitor the situation and apprise the pubic on a timely basis.”
For more information or any questions, please contact Mary Ann O’Connor at 781-393-2565 or for more information: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/environmental/lead/lead-protect-family.pdf
Lead is naturally-occurring, and it can be found in high concentrations in some areas. In addition, soil, yards and playgrounds can become contaminated when exterior lead-based paint from houses or buildings flakes or peels and gets into the soil. Soil may also be contaminated from past use of leaded gasoline in cars, from industrial sources, or even from contaminated sites including former lead smelters.
Danger from lead in soil occurs when soil is either ingested or inhaled. Children under six are at greatest risk from lead exposure. Lead in soil can be ingested because of hand-to-mouth activity that is common for young children and why it is so important to wash their hands prior to eating or sleeping after playing outdoors. Lead in soil can also be ingested from eating vegetables that may have taken up lead from soil in the garden.
Lead in soil may also be inhaled if suspended in the air, or tracked into your house thereby spreading the contamination. To reduce exposure to lead, after playing or working outdoors, put doormats outside and inside all entryways, and remove your shoes before entering.
To keep children from playing in soil near your home, plant bushes close to the house.
FROM THE MASSACHUSETTS’ DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION’S WEBSITE:
What can I do to protect my family from lead in my yard?
If you have lead in your yard, here are some things you can do:
– Discourage children from playing on bare soil – provide a sandbox, if possible – and make sure they wash their hands after playing outside, especially before eating.
– Wash toys before bringing them into the house or leave them outside.
– Keep your pets clean. Dogs and cats can bring dirt inside on their paws or fur.
– Clean up any dirt that is tracked into the house. Use a wet mop whenever you can, since sweeping or vacuuming can stir up dust in the air.
– Wash clothing that is heavily soiled with dirt from the yard separately from other laundry.
– Improve or replace the soil in areas of your yard that are used for gardening or use raised beds. Keep in mind that vegetables grown above ground (e.g., tomatoes and squash) are safer for eating than root vegetables (e.g., potatoes and carrots).
– During the summer months, when dust is a problem, clean window sills with a damp cloth or sponge once a week.
– Keep exterior house paint in good condition. Old paint can peel and flake off into the soil.
What else can I do to make my yard safer?
There are several steps that you can take – including simply planting grass or shrubs – to create an effective safety barrier:
– Play Areas can be made safer by properly locating them in the yard. Place swing sets and sand boxes away from areas where there is lead in soil. Use clean sand in the sand box. Children sometimes put toys and/or hands in their mouths, so make sure sandboxes are covered when not in use to prevent lead dust from getting into them.
– Lawns that are healthy will reduce exposure to lead in soil. Keeping your lawn healthy is the best and most practical solution for those who want to use their yards for playing and relaxing.
– Walkways that are not paved create dust. Paving walkways with concrete or asphalt will limit dust and dirt that may be carried into the house. You may also use bricks, wood chips, or heavy gravel.
– Parking Areas should be confined to driveways or parking lots that are either paved or covered with gravel. Cars parked all over the yard can destroy grass and create dust that may contain lead.
– The Drip Zone is the narrow three-foot strip around the foundation of your house. This is usually where the highest levels of lead are found. This is because over the years, paint chips containing lead have fallen to the ground and mixed with the top layer of soil. Cover this area with mulch, crushed stone, or a landscaping cloth.