Residents who live near
two industrial factories in West
Oakland and West Berkeley may suspect that the air they breathe
than average levels of lead and other heavy metals.
Now a new pilot study
sponsored by the nonprofit Global
Community Monitor will help them find out.
The study involves testing
the blood of children ages 1-5
who live within a mile of Custom Alloy Scrap Sales, or CASS, on Poplar
in West Oakland, and Pacific Steel Casting on Second Street in West
The companies have been targeted by environmental groups for pollution
that are compounded by their proximity to residential neighborhoods.
CASS, recognizing its
incompatibility with the neighborhood,
is seeking to relocate to vacant industrial land adjacent to the former
Army Base and the East Bay Municipal Utility District wastewater
Ruth Breech, program
director of Global Community Monitor,
said a total of 70 children -- 35 children from each city -- will be
heavy metals that have been previously detected in air quality samples
from monitoring stations near the facilities.
"This was prompted by the
community," Breech said.
"They said, 'OK, it's in the air, so what is in our bodies?' They
to know what is their exposure."
Children who live near the
CASS metal recycling facility in
West Oakland will be tested for lead and cadmium. Children who live
Pacific Steel Casting in West Berkeley will be tested for manganese.
The study will compare the
levels of metal found in children
who live very close to the plants with the test results of children
the edge of the study area. The results will also be compared with
"normal" levels of exposure to those metals detected from other
"We have residential
neighbors really living next to heavy
industry, so our question is what is too close? How do we coexist?"
"There are homes and
schools and people living,
working, playing and walking in areas where both of these companies are
located," she added. "My hope is that from this study we have some
data to move the conversation forward."
The study is a
collaboration with the UC San Francisco
pediatric environmental health specialty unit and Children's Hospital
Children who are selected for the study will have their blood drawn at
The family must also make
their home available for a
one-time dust wipe sample that will be studied for the presence of
Air samples will also be
taken during the length of the
The participating families
will be given the blood test and
dust wipe results compared to national averages. Families will also be
to health agencies to help them interpret the results and find ways to
their families' exposure, Breech said.
For more information about
the study and how to join, call
510-233-1870 or email email@example.com.
There is also an
informational meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Wednesday in the conference room of the outpatient building across the
from the main hospital at 744 52nd St. in Oakland.