It all takes time. Ten years ago 53 Ottawa County families who had children enrolled in the MATCH Project (Metals Assessment Targeting Community Health) a birth cohort study participated in a small research project. Ami Zota, a young Harvard researcher has had her results published this month in Nature America, Inc., and the results are important for us and the children growing up in Ottawa County.

 

Mining-impacted communities can expose infants to metals. Ms. Zota looked at the children's residential exposures near the Tar Creek Superfund Site twice during their first year for lead, manganese, arsenic and cadmium in indoor air, house dust, yard soil and tap water. She found the strong and consistent associations between dust and body burden suggest house dust in mining-impacted area may impact children's health when they are particularly vulnerable to the "toxic insult."

 

The results showed homes with two or more chat sources (proximity to chat piles, residential chat in the foundation, or driveway chat) had dust lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic concentrations two to three times higher compared with homes without those sources.

 

Four metals were detected in 100% of the dust samples and 100% of infant hair samples, lead was highest, followed by manganese, cadmium and arsenic. One other finding was tap water frequently detected lead, manganese and arsenic. This was ten years ago, surely that can't be happening now.

 

This work needs our attention. Children can be exposed to multiple mine waste metals through our household dust. House dust must be a priority for your young children since they spend the majority of their time indoors. Ami, as a new mother with an eight month old daughter, the very age she would be most vulnerable should she live here in Ottawa County. Publishing this study must be most poignant for her at this time.

 

It also puts her right up there as one of two Superfund heroes we will recognize during this 35th Superfund Anniversary. The other is Rafael Casanova, Project Manager for Operable Unit 4 at the Tar Creek Superfund site. He came nearly 20 years ago in the early days of EPA's return in the 1990's when our children were found to be lead poisoned in such large numbers. Always culturally aware he was able to work with the Ottawa County Health Department to reach the Hispanic community to explain the urgency of protecting their children from lead poisoning and with the tribes and LEAD Agency to be that bridge to EPA. We celebrated when he returned to the site and currently is working very closely with the Quapaw Tribe on the projects they are doing to clean up tribal and non-tribal lands. There were several years he was away and we learned why.

 

Rafael as an environmental scientist has been dealing with toxic substances throughout his career with EPA. When working construction early in his life he was exposed to asbestos and during those years away from Tar Creek, Rafael was dealing with the health impacts from that exposure, receiving an incredible new lifesaving treatment. And what is he doing with his life? He is serving us in Ottawa County as the Project Manager at the Tar Creek Superfund site, for the work the Quapaw Tribe is doing on their lands along the Beaver Creek watershed. He is spending these saved years helping to repair a landscape we all thought was dead, never to be revived. When we had our celebration for Superfund's 35th Anniversary we had a real hero with us after all. We succeeded in putting the Super back in Superfund, but we had a true life hero standing there with us to do it.

 

Officials from two regions of EPA and stakeholders interested in Tar Creek gathered in a large room in Webb City for a higher level thinking kind of meeting, with Office of Research and Development representatives from Cincinnati presenting the concept of developing a plan through structured decision making. Literally looking at how to solve complex problems with uncertainty. I have never been uncertain about cleaning up Tar Creek. I am certain it can happen, and that it will be done. There is a way to develop that plan and I saw people in that room who can do that and then make it happen.

 

Sometimes I feel greedy, but during this season of making wishes come true, why not wish, for a clean Tar Creek, Beaver Creek and Elm Creek clean, too, and all those chat piles gone and the fields once again productive plowed ground for safe crops, pasture land, hay meadows and all the yards throughout Ottawa County filled only with clean safe soil, chat drive ways gone. We can have this. It can happen. It just takes time and a plan.

 

Rebecca Jim is executive director of the LEAD Agency.It all takes time. Ten years ago 53 Ottawa County families who had children enrolled in the MATCH Project (Metals Assessment Targeting Community Health) a birth cohort study participated in a small research project. Ami Zota, a young Harvard researcher has had her results published this month in Nature America, Inc., and the results are important for us and the children growing up in Ottawa County.

 

Mining-impacted communities can expose infants to metals. Ms. Zota looked at the children's residential exposures near the Tar Creek Superfund Site twice during their first year for lead, manganese, arsenic and cadmium in indoor air, house dust, yard soil and tap water. She found the strong and consistent associations between dust and body burden suggest house dust in mining-impacted area may impact children's health when they are particularly vulnerable to the "toxic insult."

 

The results showed homes with two or more chat sources (proximity to chat piles, residential chat in the foundation, or driveway chat) had dust lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic concentrations two to three times higher compared with homes without those sources.

 

Four metals were detected in 100% of the dust samples and 100% of infant hair samples, lead was highest, followed by manganese, cadmium and arsenic. One other finding was tap water frequently detected lead, manganese and arsenic. This was ten years ago, surely that can't be happening now.

 

This work needs our attention. Children can be exposed to multiple mine waste metals through our household dust. House dust must be a priority for your young children since they spend the majority of their time indoors. Ami, as a new mother with an eight month old daughter, the very age she would be most vulnerable should she live here in Ottawa County. Publishing this study must be most poignant for her at this time.

 

It also puts her right up there as one of two Superfund heroes we will recognize during this 35th Superfund Anniversary. The other is Rafael Casanova, Project Manager for Operable Unit 4 at the Tar Creek Superfund site. He came nearly 20 years ago in the early days of EPA's return in the 1990's when our children were found to be lead poisoned in such large numbers. Always culturally aware he was able to work with the Ottawa County Health Department to reach the Hispanic community to explain the urgency of protecting their children from lead poisoning and with the tribes and LEAD Agency to be that bridge to EPA. We celebrated when he returned to the site and currently is working very closely with the Quapaw Tribe on the projects they are doing to clean up tribal and non-tribal lands. There were several years he was away and we learned why.

 

Rafael as an environmental scientist has been dealing with toxic substances throughout his career with EPA. When working construction early in his life he was exposed to asbestos and during those years away from Tar Creek, Rafael was dealing with the health impacts from that exposure, receiving an incredible new lifesaving treatment. And what is he doing with his life? He is serving us in Ottawa County as the Project Manager at the Tar Creek Superfund site, for the work the Quapaw Tribe is doing on their lands along the Beaver Creek watershed. He is spending these saved years helping to repair a landscape we all thought was dead, never to be revived. When we had our celebration for Superfund's 35th Anniversary we had a real hero with us after all. We succeeded in putting the Super back in Superfund, but we had a true life hero standing there with us to do it.

 

Officials from two regions of EPA and stakeholders interested in Tar Creek gathered in a large room in Webb City for a higher level thinking kind of meeting, with Office of Research and Development representatives from Cincinnati presenting the concept of developing a plan through structured decision making. Literally looking at how to solve complex problems with uncertainty. I have never been uncertain about cleaning up Tar Creek. I am certain it can happen, and that it will be done. There is a way to develop that plan and I saw people in that room who can do that and then make it happen.

 

Sometimes I feel greedy, but during this season of making wishes come true, why not wish, for a clean Tar Creek, Beaver Creek and Elm Creek clean, too, and all those chat piles gone and the fields once again productive plowed ground for safe crops, pasture land, hay meadows and all the yards throughout Ottawa County filled only with clean safe soil, chat drive ways gone. We can have this. It can happen. It just takes time and a plan.

 

Rebecca Jim is executive director of the LEAD Agency.