Study on Butte's arsenic and lead levels released this week

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Posted at 4:49 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 12:57:23-04

BUTTE — People in Butte will be able to learn about the second phase of a five-year report on arsenic and lead levels in Butte as part of the county’s Residential Metals Abatement Program.

The program is part of the Superfund cleanup to remove toxic metals from homes, some of which was brought on by Butte’s early mining industry.

“But the lead also comes from paint, the older homes, it comes from older homes that have a lead pipe for their drinking water,” said EPA Representative Nikia Greene.

The report was put together by Butte’s Citizens Technical Environment Committee to monitor lead levels in blood, especially those most vulnerable to it.

Our biggest concern for children under 6 (years old) and nursing mothers...

“And our biggest concern for children under 6 (years old) and nursing mothers and even potential environmental justice,” said Greene.

The program also is focused on helping Butte’s poorer communities.

“Lead is very pernicious, leads to neurophysiological problems, learning difficulties, behavioral difficulties, the list goes on and on and cleaning that up will be beneficial to all Butte kids, but it’s particularly been concentrated to help low-income citizens in Butte so that they don’t have to bear a disproportionate toxic burden,” said John Ray, a citizen member of the phase 2 study.

The first phase of the study showed that lead levels in the blood dramatically dropped, and the second phase will show that it appears that it’s going to be leveling off so that’s a positive sign.

“It’s really a national model of a successful program and now what’s exciting is now it’s going to be expanded to the Flats and this is an exciting thing because it will cover all of Butte,” said Ray.

People can view a video of the study at Butte-Silver Bow’s website this week. A Facebook live presentation on the study will be held May 24th on Butte-Silver Bow’s Facebook page where people can ask questions about the study.