The lead found at the Newhall site is mixed in the soil where there is buried landfill waste. Lead is a metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes, including paint. It was also used in the neighborhood in the past in the manufacture of guns and ammunition at the Winchester Repeating Arms factory (which is no longer there). Lead can cause a range of health effects, from flu-like symptoms, behavior problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and in extreme cases where there has been exposure to very high doses, death. Each of the health effects often depends on how much the person is exposed to and for how long. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly. People can get lead in their body if they:
• Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
• Eat paint chips or soil that contains lead.
• Breathe in lead dust
The potential exists for lead poisoning to occur if children play in residential yards where bare soil is exposed. The best thing to do to prevent lead poisoning in children is to have children age 6 and under tested for lead by a medical provider.
You are not likely to get lead poisoning from sitting on the ground or playing on the athletic fields, even if there is some lead in the soil. In the mid-1990s, a soil barrier was placed on the athletic fields at the Hamden Middle School. The barrier serves to prevent exposure, even in area where lead was found to be a high levels under the ground. Remember, if you’re not exposed, you are not at risk of getting sick. For more information on lead please navigate to the following page: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts13.html
Arsenic, an element that is found naturally in soil at low levels and is considered by some to be a dietary essential element, was discovered at elevated levels in Rochford Field, in some areas around the Middle School and in some yards. Inorganic arsenic is used to preserve wood and for insecticides and weed killers. Exposure to arsenic at high levels can irritate and darken skin, cause sore throats, irritated lungs, abnormal heart rhythm and blood vessel damage, increase the risk of skin cancer, and tumors of the bladder, kidney, liver and lungs. The following link, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts2.html, provides more detailed information about arsenic.
PAHs are a group of over 100 different chemicals formed during the incomplete burning of many things including coal, oil, garbage, and cigarettes. They are found throughout the environment. People can be exposed to PAHs by eating grilled or charred meats, breathing FOR A LONG TIME air containing PAHs from smoke or from airborne oil particles, such as vehicle exhaust or touching PAH contaminated soil. In order to be exposed to PAHs, you must come into direct contact with contaminated soil (for example, digging with bare hands in the soil, eating soil particles on hands or food, or breathing airborne soil particles). Several PAHs have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and in people after long periods of exposure at high levels. Studies in animals have also shown that PAHs can cause harmful effects on skin and the immune system, however those effects have not been reported in people. More detailed information about PAHs can be found at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts69.html.
Methane is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas. It is the primary ingredient in natural gas used for heating. Methane is produced from decomposing waste materials present in landfills. Landfill material is present underneath former Hamden Middle School on Newhall Street so it was not surprising that methane was found underneath the solid concrete boiler room floor of the school. But, from the testing that has been done, this gas does not appear to be present under the floor in other parts of the school. Methane has also not been detected in any indoor air of the school.
Methane is not toxic to the body. However, if enough methane builds up in an enclosed space (such as a closet) with enough oxygen, it can produce an explosion if lit (such as with a lighted cigarette or spark from electricity). A monitor with a 24-hour alarm system has been installed in the custodian’s office as a measure to prevent this type of incident. If there is even the slightest change, the monitor notifies the custodian and the Hamden Building and Facilities Manager