There's no guarantee that blood-lead tests taken from 169 people living near the contaminated Bingham Creek channel are reliable, health officials warned Thursday.
There's also no guarantee that 110 soil samples analyzed by health officials - indicating no apparent threat - reflect the long-term effect the 14-mile dry creek channel may have on residents living near the area, health officials warned."You need to remember that the values on your sheet represent one single location in your yard. Other specific locations in your yard may have values somewhat lower or somewhat higher than the specific value recorded," said Bob McLeod, project manager for the Utah Bureau of Environmental Response and Remediation.
McLeod was one of several health and other officials who spoke at a meeting at West Jordan Middle School. More than 80 people attended the meeting.
The channel extends through parts of South and West Jordan, from the Oquirrh Mountains to the Jordan River near 7800 South and 1300 West.
". . . We can't be totally reassured because we know we haven't tested everyone," said David Thurman, an epidemiologist with the Utah Bureau of Epidemiology. "It is possible that some people, who might have higher (lead) levels, did not choose to be tested."
Brent Everett, an environmental health scientist for the Utah Bureau of Environmental Response and Remediation, said, however, that soil test results indicate high lead and arsenic concentrations are limited to the creek bed and Jordan View Estates subdivision.
Health officials said the results of the blood-lead testing must be interpreted with caution. Tests of whole blood lead provide reliable estimates of lead exposure occurring within a few months prior to testing, they said.
But the results discussed Thursday are much less sensitive in detecting exposures occurring in the past, unless such exposures were extremely heavy, they said.
Despite the warnings, Everett said the majority of the soil samples showed lead levels below 500 parts per million and that the channel lead and arsenic contamination was deposited by a water-borne source.
The warnings angered residents who live in the Jordan View Estates subdivision, whose homes are located on the contaminated flood plain.
"I'm very concerned with the fact that these gentlemen are fast to tell themselves that they've responded quickly . . . the fact that this meeting is attended very poorly by the residents, especially the residents of the Jordan View Estates area, where the highest levels of contaminations have been found, should tell us that something is wrong," said Gerald Dearing.
Candido Abeyta, 3055 W. 8600 South, who also lives in the area, said he didn't trust test results because his brother died of cancer and several of his neighbors are also afflicted with the disease.
"I've seen so much sickness on my street . . . I've seen so much cancer and now they are telling me this stuff doesn't cause it. I just don't believe them," Abeyta said. "I'm scared. I was scared before but now I'm terrified."
Thurman said blood-lead tests of people living near the Bingham Creek Channel - conducted in October - revealed no evidence of lead intoxication. Those tested included 157 children and 12 adults.
All test results were below 10 micrograms per deciliter, lower than the so-called borderline level of 10-15, Thurman said.
Fifty-six percent of the samples were found to be below 5 micrograms per deciliter and the estimated mean blood lead value for the group as a whole was 4 micrograms per deciliter, Thurman said.
Thurman also cautioned that the Utah Department of Health has been notified that two children living in the area, who were tested by a private physician, showed borderline lead elevations of 10 and 11 micrograms per deciliter.
Barbara Hastings, a resident who lives in the most contaminated area of the channel, said her daughter has a 9 microgram-per-deciliter blood-level reading. She said the girl is experiencing serious learning disabilities in kindergarten.
Residents were once again told to keep their children away from the usually dry creek bed that for years has been a favorite playground.