Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH), working in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have discovered lead and arsenic contamination in fields at Taylor Creek Youth Organization.
Taylor Creek Youth Organization (TCYO) is a non-profit sports organization located in Hamilton County’s Whitewater Township. The organization’s sports complex, located at 8015 Furlong Road., provides baseball, softball and soccer fields. In addition, the complex hosts a weekly “turkey shoot” during the winter months.
A citizen complaint was sent to the Ohio EPA with concern that lead from the turkey shoots could potentially contaminate playing fields. Children and other individuals using the playing fields might potentially be exposed to unsafe levels of lead.
The Ohio EPA referred the case to Hamilton County Public Health. HCPH staff conducted a visual inspection of the field in closest proximity to the field used for the turkey shoots. Visual inspection indicated debris from shotgun shells littering the field, as well as particles of a gray metallic substance. Inspectors suspected the substance was lead.
A licensed lead risk assessor employed by HCPH took soil samples from the field. In addition, a water sample was collected from a hose fixture on the west side of the facility’s concession stand. Test results for soil were returned confirming soil contamination with lead and arsenic. Water sample results showed no contamination.
Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead. Unborn babies and children under six years old are most at risk. Lead poisoning hurts the brain and nervous system and can cause learning and behavior problems.Some of the effects of lead poisoning may never go away. Lead in a child’s body can: slow down growth and development; damage hearing and speech; and make it hard to pay attention and learn.
Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and minerals and may enter the air, water and land from wind-blown dust and may get into water from runoff and leaching. Breathing high levels of inorganic arsenic can give you a sore throat or irritated lungs.
Swallowing arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart beat, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of “pins and needles” in hands and feet.
“While we feel that the potential risks to children who have played on these fields are small, we would advise anyone concerned to consult with their physician,” says Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram. “Tests for both lead and arsenic exposure are readily available and easy to administer.
“The staff at Taylor Creek Youth Organization has been extremely cooperative,” Ingram adds. “They obviously have great concern for the children and others who use the facility and we appreciate the cooperation.”
Further soil sampling will be conducted to better understand the extent of the contamination. For more information on lead exposure, visit Hamilton County Public Health website at hcph.org and search “lead.”