Taracorp Industries is in Granite City, in Madison County in the state of Illinois and the two bordering towns Madison and Venice. Secondary lead smelting was done by the company from 1903 to 1983, but this ceased as a result of the company’s continued violations of the lead emission air standards. The company however continues with its activities of metal refining and fabrication. The factories past and present activities have led to high level of lead which has been detected in residential and commercial soils in the neighboring areas of Venice and Granite City Madison.
The history of Taracorp site goes back to the year 1895 when the manufacture of lead shot and clay pigeon was being done at the site by a company named Markle Lead Works. There was a fire incident that occurred in 1900 at the factory which destroyed everything.
There was rebuilding in 1901, with an addition of a lead smelter. Manufacture of lead shots, mixed metals, sealing wax, dross refining are the processes that were being undertaken by the factory by the year 1903. The factory was purchased by United Lead in 1903 which increased the smelting processes.
In 1928 there was acquisition of the factory by National Lead Company, which introduced the recycling of battery 1950. Taracorp took control of the factory in the year 1979.
Taracorp has drawn a lot of concern in the in the past decade. From the late 1970s there has been about three screening that has been done on the potentially exposed population that is in the neighborhood of the industry. There was sampling of the residents of Granite City and Madisons by IDPH in 1981 followed by the screening of the Venice residents by he same organization the following year. In 1991 there was a large epidemiological study by IDPH and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the community.
It was concluded by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) that the Taracorp site and activities were putting the public into danger as a result of the chronic exposure of the public, especially the children to lead and other chemicals. The children are exposed to the lead through the off-site soil and also the off-site air. A high level of lead in the surrounding of the industry can cause health problems when inhaled or ingested.
The off-site lead contamination is attributable to the past smelting activities and the dust generated from piles waste and soils at the site. The lead level is as high as 20,000 parts in a million in the offsite soils and this level drops with an increase in the distance from the factory (Belleville, 1989).
Lead contamination has affected an area greater than four square miles next to the industry. In the lead exposure studies that was conducted in 1991 by IDPH there was a conclusion that the source of lead which the small children were exposed to was from house dust and its source was paint or soil. From the study it was noted that the soil contribution to the lead that was found in the blood was small but statistically important. From the research it was also found that the off-site lead level was high as compared to lead level in the background and this could serve as the an exposure source to the public especially the children [US Environment protection Agency].
In a research done in 1987 to test the level of contamination on surface water four samples of rainwater runoff from the slag pile were taken for analysis, and it was found that the lead content ranged from 3 to 41 ppm.
The lead discharge standard into water ways is 0.2 ppm.
The exposure of the waste pile to wind and erosion is noted to be the way the lead is carried to areas where people get contact to it and the best way to reduce this is by use dust suppressants on the waste pile. Activities like removing of the surface soil and waste piles increase the lead exposure to the workers and the residents of the surrounding area through ingestion and inhalation. The workers are exposed to the lead at the industries as research has shown that air that the workers are exposed to has high lead levels than the Permissible exposure limits (PEL).
There are precautions that can be undertaken in order to address the negative effect of lead to the environment around the industry. There can be elimination or reduction to exposure to waste pile contaminants by remediation.
By elimination of exposure sources that include lead based paint, the soil and dust the exposure to lead will be reduced considerably. There should be dust control when remedial activities are being undertaken for example by sprinkling water on the material being handled. Provision of information to the resident on the measures they can undertake to reduce there contact with the contaminants that are in the in the soil is also another way of controlling exposure. Good hygiene, washing of root vegetables are some of the measures that should be observed [US Environment protection Agency].
The air at the work place should be monitored near the worksite and the workers should be provided with the necessary protective gear which they should be making use of. The other measures that are very necessary are the collection of a down gradient monitoring of well samples and analysis done in order to determine contaminant migration and there should be lead blood screening for young children that are six years and below as a medical routine care.
The necessary public health actions if taken by IDPH in cooperation with ATSDR can also help in curbing the menace of lead. The public living next to the site should continue being informed about the health dangers posed by the site. The organizations should continue working and doing consultancy with Illinois EPA and USEPA on the way they should implement the recommendation that have been made [ATSDR].
ATSDR. Public health assessment Retrieved on April 30 2009 from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/taracorp/tar_p1.html.
Belleville, IL. (1989) Occupational Health and Safety Administration. File Information New York: Prentice Hall
US Environment protection Agency. Emergency Response and Removal
Retrieved on April 30 2009 from http://www.epa.gov/region5superfund/eerb.html.