Federal, state and local health officials are evaluating dozens of responses to a detailed questionnaire, checking the latest blood-lead level tests and completing their analysis of soil samples in anticipation of a cleanup of the lead-tainted Bingham Creek community.
The officials gathered at the Environmental Protection Agency Regional Office in Denver Thursday to share and compare information. Also, they expect to set a date for a public meeting on the Bingham Creek investigation, probably within the next three weeks.Renette Anderson, community relations coordinator for the Utah Division of Environmental Health, said more than half of the 85 Bingham Creek area households that were surveyed two weeks ago answered the questionnaire.
"We are extremely pleased with the way the community is responding to the information-gathering process," she said. "We are all trying to work together."
Health officials selected the 85 homes based on tests that showed elevated levels of lead in property soils. The purpose of the questionnaire is to determine the degree of exposure to lead and related health risks.
Soil samples taken from the usually dry, 11-mile-long creekbed in October revealed lead levels as high as 30,500 parts per million, which is 30,000 parts per million higher than what the EPA considers acceptable. Three weeks later, health officials administered blood tests to about 160 area children and reported that none exhibited any signs of dangerously elevated blood levels.
Last week, the health division offered free blood tests to pregnant women and those who are breast feeding infants. Four women took the test, but the results won't be known for several weeks, Anderson said.
The renewed attention on Bingham Creek - following a winter of few developments - has heightened concern among area residents. "Some people are angry, some are scared," said Anderson. "I think it's understandable."
Steve Way, the EPA's on-site coordinator for Bingham Creek, has said that the high concentrations of lead in the residential area indicate that a cleanup probably will be ordered. Investigators believe long-defunct lead mine operations in the Oquirrh foothills are the source of the contamination.