Residents of the mine-waste polluted town of Treece have about 60 percent more lead in their bloodstream than the average Kansan, according to the results of medical tests performed last month.
Comprehensive lead testing done Sept. 8 and 9 found that the median lead level for Treece residents is 4.0 micrograms per deciliter of blood, compared to a norm of 2.5 for all Kansas residents, said a report released by the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday.
One of the 16 children tested last month showed a blood-lead level higher than 10, the point at which state health officials define lead poisoning. Two others showed levels between 5 and 10.
EPA officials estimate that the children tested represent about half the population of Treece from birth to age six.
Combined with test results from 2005 to 2008, the health survey estimated that 8.8 percent of children in Treece would have lead levels of more than 10, compared with 3.8 percent of children across Cherokee County, which includes Treece, and 2.9 percent of children across the state.
"It's an alarm any time we have children with (elevated) lead levels," said David Bryan, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency in Kansas City, Kan.
He said the EPA and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will be retesting the child whose levels indicated lead poisoning.
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