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EPA in Missouri

Franklin County Lead Superfund Site, Franklin County, Missouri - Fact Sheet, August 2017

EPA Conducting Removal Action

INTRODUCTION

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 conducted a Site Assessment at the Franklin County Lead Superfund Site. The assessment consisted of environmental sampling of residential soils and private drinking water wells to determine concentrations of lead.

BACKGROUND

Significant mining activities began around 1830 in Franklin County. The Valle, Northumberland, Virginia, Skewes, Casswell, and Thomas mines all produced lead in Franklin County. Additionally, eight lead smelters are known to have operated in the county. These mining and smelting activities may have contributed to elevated levels of lead in soil or groundwater at residential properties in the county.

In 2006, EPA began collecting soil and water samples from residential properties located near mining and mine waste disposal areas in Franklin County. The soil and water samples were analyzed for the presence of lead and other heavy metals. Several yards were addressed and water filtration systems were installed on private wells that exceeded the maximum contaminant level for lead in drinking water. EPA conducted additional sampling in 2015 and 2016. Based on the results of the site assessments, several additional yards are planned for removal to address contamination that was not previously addressed. To date, 400 residential properties and 301 private wells have been assessed in Franklin County. This Removal Action is intended to clean up the remaining properties identified that have residential soil lead levels above EPA’s Removal Management Level.

RESIDENTIAL SAMPLING

If your property has not been sampled, and you would like to have your soil and/or well water analyzed for lead, please contact the On-Scene Coordinator (see EPA Contact Information below).

ABOUT LEAD CONTAMINATION

Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Lead is classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen, and is a cumulative toxicant. Lead exposure can pose serious health risks, particularly for young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid exposure to lead to protect their children. Children are more sensitive to lead than adults, and can develop lifelong disabilities and behavior problems from lead exposure.

Children 7 years old and younger are most at risk from developing health effects from exposure to lead. Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead, because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths.

It is important that children in this age range be tested annually, because lead-poisoned children do not always look or act sick. It is important to know that even exposure to low levels of lead can severely harm children. Exposure to lead can cause negative health effects in infants and young children, including, but not limited to:
  • Nervous system and kidney damage
  • Learning disabilities, attention-deficit disorder, and decreased intelligence
  • Speech, language, and behavior problems
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Decreased muscle and bone growth, and hearing damage
While low lead exposure is most common, exposure to high amounts of lead can have devastating effects on children, including seizures, unconsciousness, and in some cases, death. Although children are especially susceptible to lead exposure, lead can be dangerous for adults, too. In adults, exposure to lead can cause:
  • Harm to a developing fetus
  • Increased chance of high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Fertility problems (in men and women)
  • High blood pressure
  • Digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain

PROTECT YOUR FAMILY FROM LEAD

In general, lead exposure and its effects can be reduced by:
  • Washing hands after playing outside and before meals
  • Eating a diet high in calcium and iron (and low in fat)
  • Regularly cleaning floors, window sills, and other surfaces
  • Regularly washing children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys
  • Removing shoes or wiping soil from shoes before entering your home

BLOOD LEAD TESTING

The only way to know if your child has elevated blood lead levels is to have his or her blood tested. EPA encourages parents to have their children tested for lead exposure. Talk to your pediatrician, general physician, or local health department about what you can do and about testing your child. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check you or your child for lead exposure.

For more information on blood testing for children, you can contact:

Franklin County Health Department
414 East Main St.
Union, MO 63084
Phone: 636-583-7300

ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD AND ADDITIONAL LEAD INFORMATION

The Administrative Record for the Franklin County Superfund Site is available online.

For more information about lead, visit:

EPA CONTACT INFORMATION

For questions or site information, contact:

Randolph Brown
On-Scene Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219
Phone: 913-551-7978
Toll-free: 1-800-223-0425
 
Elizabeth Kramer
Community Engagement Specialist
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219
Phone: 913-551-7186
Toll-free: 1-800-223-0425
Email: kramer.elizabeth@epa.gov