State isn't using blood-test data that could help focus Exide cleanup efforts

The state of California has blood test results showing high levels of lead in children living near the closed Exide battery plant in Vernon but is not using the information to direct its massive cleanup of lead-contaminated homes and yards.

Health experts say the test results should be used to help pinpoint neighborhoods most in need of swift cleanup because children there have been exposed to more of the poisonous metal. Lead, which spewed for decades from the Exide Technologies recycling facility, is especially dangerous to young children, putting them at risk of lifelong developmental and behavioral problems.

Blood-testing data have guided government responses to lead contamination elsewhere. In Flint, Mich., the state is using maps of children's blood lead levels to target neighborhoods hardest hit by the city's lead-contaminated drinking water.

But in California, officials have been unable to launch a similar effort. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control said it has tried unsuccessfully for more than two years to obtain blood lead levels from state and county health agencies, which keep the records.

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