‘Recovery Act’ funds bolster arsenic cleanup; child arsenic levels below concern

April 27 open house will present child-arsenic study findings

Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will funnel $10–$25 million to clean up approximately 500 properties in the South Minneapolis Residential Soil Contamination Superfund site, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In related news, the Minnesota Department Health (MDH) announced that a 2008 pilot project to test children in the area for harmful levels of arsenic found that most had levels below what would be a health concern. An MDH release states that there does not appear to be a connection between exposure to arsenic in soil and the levels found in the tested children’s urine.

The Superfund site is contaminated by varying levels of arsenic from the former CMC Heartland company, which produced and distributed pesticides and herbicides at the epicenter of the 1,480-acre area between 1938 and 1963. The 1,480-acre Superfund site has a roughly oval shape. At its widest, it stretches along East 28th Street from 10th Avenue South to 31st Avenue South. At its longest, it runs from I-94 to East 35th Street, following a line just east of Cedar Avenue.

The pollution was discovered in 2004, and the EPA designated the area a Superfund site in 2007. By the end of 2008, cleanup had been completed for nearly 200 of the properties found to have more than the “normal” levels of 16 parts per million (ppm) of arsenic in the soil. Approximately 500 properties remain to be cleaned.

The EPA lauded the $10–$25 million Recovery Act funds — part of the $600 million that Congress appropriated to the Federal Superfund remedial program — not only for their primary public health value, but as an opportunity to create jobs in the area.

You can read more about the cleanup project — expected to begin this summer and last two–four years — in our November 2008 story.

Find much more information about the South Minneapolis Residential Soil Contamination Superfund site here.

Happening concurrently with the Superfund cleanup, The bio-monitoring pilot project tested urine samples from 65 children between the ages of 3 and 10 years old. (Children are more likely than adults to be exposed to arsenic by playing outside and getting soil in their mouths, according to the MDH). Of those 65 children, four showed levels “ near or higher than the action level” that would cause concern, according to an MDH release. The families of these children were contacted by MDH staff and advised to contact a physician. Further testing by the MDH public health laboratory found that “most of the arsenic was a less-toxic form of arsenic that comes from foods such as seafood,” according to the release.

A summary of the results of the study will be presented at a public meeting on Monday, April 27 at the Corcoran Community Center, 3334 20th Ave. S. An open house, 6–8:30 p.m., will include a formal presentation of study findings and methods, 7–7:30 p.m.

For more information about the biomonitoring pilot project, see our November 2007 story.

last revised: May 29, 2009