Ohio EPA: Town failed on lead notifications

Posted at 12:40 AM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 00:40:56-05

SEBRING, Ohio -- Tap water samples taken over the last two weeks have found high levels of lead in at least 30 homes in the village, which failed to promptly notify some people about results and didn't submit required weekly reports on water chemistry, state environmental regulators said Tuesday.

The elevated readings, above the federal standard, represent about 5 percent of the samples tested since Sebring-area residents were told in late January that officials failed to notify them about high lead levels detected last summer.

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When Ohio Environmental Protection Agency staff members were conducting follow-up testing for a few homes over the weekend, "it became evident that the village had not notified these residents of their recent test results as quickly and thoroughly as they should have," Director Craig Butler said in a statement.

He said the village also didn't submit weekly water chemistry reports that were due on Feb. 1 and on Monday.

A message seeking comment was left for the village manager's office after the EPA announced Tuesday evening that it had issued another notice of violation to the village, which has been required to provide bottled water or filtering for homes showing high lead levels.

The Ohio EPA said it has been following up with homeowners with the highest readings.

"What we have found is that the water coming into the home is healthy and running the tap for several minutes successfully eliminates any detectable lead in the water," EPA spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer said.

The agency has been getting daily updates on new test results.

Meanwhile, the Mahoning County Department of Health said Tuesday that blood screenings have found six people with elevated lead levels.

The county has tested about 230 pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under age 6. Lead is especially dangerous to young children and can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Many researchers say no amount of lead is safe for children.

Five of the six people with elevated lead levels were children tested at a clinic organized just a few days after reports of lead in the water surfaced. None of their readings was high enough to require medical treatment outlined by federal health officials.

Krystle Welty took her 1-year-old daughter Keagan to their pediatrician last month after a test showed the toddler's blood-lead level above the level the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers to be lead exposure. Welty said on Tuesday a follow-up test showed Keagan's blood-lead level was below the CDC threshold and a test of tap water at their home showed no problems.