For three months PULP has been investigating the pollution from the Colorado Smelter site also call the Eiler’s Smelter. The Environmental Protection Agency wants to move forward in the process to designate the site a Superfund which would allow for the Federal Government to clean up lead and arsenic pollution in the area. Pueblo City Council wants to see more conclusive evidence before it agrees to move forward with the Superfund process. Scientists who are studying the issue say there may never be conclusive proof of lead and arsenic.
PULP went on the record with the EPA, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Pueblo City Council and the CSU-Pueblo professor whose study Pueblo City Council is using as one of the reasons it doesn’t find sufficient evidence for lead and arsenic pollution.
Excerpts on the issue of lead and arsenic:
Pueblo most recently entered public consciousness with the EPA’s 2010 study of hazardous metal concentrations in soil around the Bessemer and Eilers neighborhoods. The study showed of the 78 samples collected 73 contained levels of metals that exceeded the cancer risk threshold and Superfund threshold, i.e., the federal environmental cleanup process. Two metals detected at poisonous and carcinogenic concentrations were arsenic and lead.
Health risks of lead and arsenic:
Lead poisoning affects nearly every system in the body, and often occurs without noticeable symptoms. Arsenic is the highest priority and most poisonous chemical listed on the EPA’s Priority List of Hazardous Substances.
Lead enters the body through either ingestion or inhalation. Low but chronic exposure, as can be the case with lead contaminated soil, can affect the developing nervous system in subtle but persistent ways.
Arsenic is classified as a known human cancer-causing agent
Ingestion exposure has also been linked to cancer of the skin, bladder, liver, and lungs.