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5 Durham parks confirmed to have elevated levels of lead

The creek at Northgate Park in Durham, N.C.
Durham Parks & Recreation

In December, a study by a Duke University graduate student found that three public parks in Durham had levels of lead considered unsafe for play areas by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Now, the city has released results from tests conducted by a third party that confirm those results, as well as two more parks in Durham.

The original report found hazardous levels of lead in parts of Walltown, East End and East Durham Parks. Each of those areas had trash incinerators until about 1950.

Results from tests conducted by Mid Atlantic Engineering and Environmental Solutions confirm those measurements. They show elevated levels of lead in parts of Northgate and Lyon Parks as well.

The city has either put up warning signs or fencing around the contaminated areas, which include a playground at Northgate Park.

A final report is expected to be handed over to the state department of environmental quality by Tuesday.

"Once NCDEQ reviews the report and provides their guidance on how to proceed, we will move forward with remediation of any park and playground areas measuring above the EPA threshold," officials said in an online update to the community.

The EPA considers soil unsafe in play areas if lead levels are higher than 400 parts per million.

In East Durham Park, eight samples had lead levels beyond that threshold, including one with 2630 ppm.

The CDC says children can be exposed to lead in soil by swallowing or breathing it in. Soil particles can also be brought indoors on shoes, clothing, or pets.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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