Do you live or work in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Maywood, Huntington Park, or Vernon? You may be impacted by the Exide battery plant and its pollution.
The car battery recycling plant was in operation in the city of Vernon since 1922 and Exide took over the plant in 2000. For years Exide was cited for releasing too much lead and arsenic into the air. Millions of harmful particles were released into the air — primarily lead and arsenic — and settled into the surrounding communities of Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Maywood, Huntington Park and of course, Vernon. A widespread community effort led by Resurrection Church, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice forced the plant to shut down in 2015 and obligated the State of California to clean-up the high levels of lead in the community.
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is the California entity now charged with leading the $175 million dollar clean-up approved by the California legislature. DTSC says it is committed to cleaning lead-contaminated soil at homes, schools, parks, day care centers, and child care facilities with the highest levels of lead. They are currently testing residents for exposure to lead and testing the soil. If you live or work in the affected area we urge you to get your soil tested and your family’s blood lead levels tested. Lead poisoning can develop very little symptoms before it reaches hazardous levels but it is particularly harmful to young children and pregnant women.
As part of the investigation to assess potential impacts to the surrounding community, the DTSC ordered Exide to sample for lead at residential properties, parks, and schools in an expanded radius of 1.7 miles beyond the Exide facility fence line. This expanded area included 22 LAUSD schools. You can view the reports for these schools here.
SEIU Local 99 Executive Board member, Agnes Braga, recently attended a committee hearing with community stakeholders, residents, and legislative representatives. “They tell families to not let their children or pets play in the soil. How can they stop kids from being kids? How do they stop pets from playing? Both play in the front or backyards of houses or in their local parks. Everyone is affected in the contaminated areas. The contaminated soil can be tracked out by vehicles used to clean the houses or neighborhoods. It dries out in the street, then the wind picks it up and spreads it further affecting other neighborhoods. It is very important to make sure you and your family are not affected by this! You need to get a blood test to make sure no one in your family or your neighborhood is affected.
The state allowed Exide to operate for many years knowing it was improperly disposing of hazardous waste. Now, thousands of families including Local 99 members’ homes are polluted with lead and their communities have had elevated cancer risks. We can’t assume we will always be protected. This is why we need to be involved politically. We need to know what’s going on in our neighborhoods to hold companies like Exide and state agencies like DTSC accountable. People need to have a voice. That’s what our Community on Political Education (COPE) is for and I urge you to join our efforts. There are many more things that need to be addressed and we cannot do it alone. We have to stand together in solidarity to ensure our health and safety is addressed,” said Agnes.
The Exide battery recycling plant released harmful lead and arsenic into the environment for over a decade, impacting the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Commerce, Bell, Maywood, Huntington Park, and Vernon. These areas are within the 1.7 mile radius considered priorities for clean-up. Many studies support an expansion to a 5 mile radius from the plant but currently the Department of Toxic Substances Control is only testing soil within the 1.7 mile area.
High levels of lead have been found in some soil samples taken from properties near Exide. Families can be exposed to this lead by playing in or walking on the affected soil, bringing it into the house on their shoes, or by eating unwashed fruit or vegetables grown in the soil. Pets might also bring lead into the home from the soil outside. All testing and clean-up will be at NO COST to the property owner or tenants. To test your soil, call 844-225-3887
You can schedule a test by calling 844-888-2290, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm. Test are free and confidential. You can also visit bloodleadtesting.com
Yes! In fact if you are pregnant or have a child under the age 6 it is urgent that you get tested. Lead can have life-altering effects on your small children and future children.
The only way to know if a person is lead-poisoned is with a blood lead test. In children, lead poisoning affects their growth, learning, and behavior. In pregnant women, lead poisoning causes high blood pressure, premature birth, or even miscarriage. We strongly urge you to get tested, it is free and confidential.
Yes. The LA County Department of Public Health has compiled a list of mental health services in the impacted communities. Check them out to see if there is one near your home.
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