Federal staffers recruited participants who live within a half mile of the former Colorado Smelter. The smelter ceased operations in 1908, but slag – waste material from making steel – was left behind. The tests are aimed at children and women of childbearing age. Dr. Bruce Tierney is a medical officer with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
With lead the main concern in children is the potential neurologic effects that can occur. Arsenic is known to be a carcinogen over a long term exposure but it can have neurologic and cardiovascular effects as well.
Some 4000 people live in the area targeted for testing, including nearly 400 children. The free tests are available to eligible residents through Thursday. Appointments can be made by contacting the Pueblo Health Department.