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EPA Environmental News

Contact: David Polish (215) 814-3327
June 18, 1998


PALMERTON, Pa. - A June 12, 1998 story in the Times News may have misled readers about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's interim cleanup of homes in
the Borough of Palmerton. Several points in the article need clarification.

The Times News article incorrectly says that EPA's actions made the homes more contaminated than before the cleanup. This false statement tries to shift blame for the
problem of lead contamination to EPA, the agency responsible for the solution.

The truth is that these homes were cleaned by a high-efficiency vacuum that uses extremely fine filters to contain all dust that it takes up. Many pounds of highly
contaminated dust were removed from each home. The overall figures for the cleanup show a reduction in lead contaminant levels after the cleanup.

The results of the cleanup have been available for some time. These results were supplied to individual homeowners in January 1998, as well as to the Palmerton
Environmental Task Force. In a March 18 memo to task force member Dolores Ziegenfus, Barbara Forslund, the task force's technical advisor, commented on the cleanup results, mirroring the conclusions contained in a March 25 final report released by Mike Towle, EPA's on-scene coordinator.

Lead-based paint contributes to lead contamination in many U.S. homes. But it cannot account for all the lead that was found in Palmerton, especially in unpainted attics
and basements. And lead-based paint cannot account for the 10,000 parts per million of lead in the soils of Stoney Ridge and Blue Mountain. Nor can lead paint account for all the cadmium, arsenic and zinc in Palmerton house dust.

The only thing that can account for these contaminants is a smelting operation that spewed out thousands of tons of poisonous metals in the air and soils of Palmerton, to use
the Zinc Company of America's own numbers.

The Pro-Palmerton Coalition wants the people of Palmerton to know the truth about lead paint. So does the EPA. The plain truth is that EPA's cleanup was successful in improving the living conditions of the residents who volunteered for the cleanup.