Expanded Site Investigation
Fact Sheet #2
Where are the Collinwoods subdivision and the expanded site investigation areas located?
The Collinwoods subdivision and the expanded site investigation areas are located on the northeast side of the city of Collinsville. The expanded site investigation area encompasses Pine Lake and portions of the surrounding subdivision.
Why are the Collinwoods and Pine Lake subdivisions being investigated?
Between 1904 and 1933, the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company operated a lead smelter at the location that is now home to the Collinwoods and Pine Lake subdivisions. The smelting facility’s main building was located near the present intersection of Raintree Trail and Pine Lake Road. Other plant buildings were located in the area presently bounded by Banyon Tree Road, Lemontree Lane and Dogwood Trail.
What did the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company produce?
The company produced a variety of lead products including lead ingots, lead sheets and powdered lead. The lead smelting process also resulted in the production of large amounts of lead-bearing waste known as slag. Slag is a mixture of lead and other elements, impurities and ash. Lead slag for this facility was disposed of in large piles on the site. One such pile existed on the south side of Pine Lake Road starting across from the intersection of Lemontree Lane and extending to the Pine Lake Road cul-de-sac.
Is lead from the smelter still in the soil?
Scattered remains of lead slag, in both chunks and particles, have been identified along Raintree Trail, Lemontree Lane and Banyon Tree Road and the small pond east of the Pine Lake Road cul-de-sac as well.
Earlier site sampling conducted in September 1986 and May 1991 indicated elevated levels of lead in the soil in some areas of the former smelter site. As a result of the high levels of lead in the soil, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) conducted blood lead screening of subdivision residents. Increased lead exposure and absorption would have resulted in elevated levels of lead in the blood. The blood lead screenings showed no abnormally high levels of lead in the blood of local residents.
Recent sediment sampling conducted by a nongovernmental party revealed elevated lead levels in the sediments of Pine Lake. In response to this finding, Illinois EPA project managers elected to re-evaluate the site.
What will the Illinois EPA do next?
In the spring of 2002, Illinois EPA project managers will collect sediment and fish samples from Pine Lake. These samples will be sent to the Illinois EPA laboratories for analysis. In addition to the sediment and fish sampling, soil screenings will be conducted in portions of the Collinwoods and Pine Lake subdivisions. The information from these screenings will be used to make a preliminary evaluation of the possible environmental effects of past operations of the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company. After evaluating the sampling and screening results, the Illinois EPA will make a recommendation on possible next steps to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). The recommendation could be either “no further action” or it could be a recommendation to proceed with data collection for additional evaluation.
How will the sediment and fish sampling be conducted?
Illinois EPA staff, in conjunction with Illinois Department of Natural Resources staff will conduct sediment and fish sampling of Pine Lake.
Sediment sampling of Pine Lake will be conducted by two methods. In the shallow areas of Pine Lake, sampling staff will wade into the water and extract a core sample. The core sample will be obtained by driving a tubular shaped instrument into the lake sediment. The core sample can then be sent to the lab where various sediment depths can be analyzed to determine chemical composition. In the deeper areas of Pine Lake, sampling staff will use a boat to gain access to sampling locations. A dredge sampler, which looks like a clamshell bucket, will be used to obtain grab samples from the bottom of the lake. The grab sample can be used to assess the chemical composition of the top layer of sediments in the deeper areas of the lake.
Sampling staff will conduct fish sampling from a boat. Two poles extend off of the front of the boat and carry large wires into the water. These wires conduct a current through the water to stun the fish nearby. The stunned fish float to the top of the water and are netted by the sampling staff. Very few fish will actually be collected, however the fish will be of varied types and sizes. Fish that are not netted by the sampling staff usually recover quickly from the stunning and return to normal activity.
How will the soil screenings be conducted?
A small section of turf will be lifted and the soil will be smoothed. A small instrument, which uses technology called X-ray Flourescence, is held on the bare soil and triggered. This instrument takes a reading of the levels of metals in the soil. No actual soil samples will be collected. After the screening readings are recorded, the turf will be replaced.
At a few locations, one to two cups of soil will be extracted and delivered to the Illinois EPA laboratories for analysis. These samples will be used for confirmation of the readings taken by the X-ray Flourescence instrument.
Will the residents have to pay for the sediment sampling, fish sampling or soil screenings?
No. The Illinois EPA will pay the costs of the sediment sampling, fish sampling, soil screenings and validation of the results.
When will residents receive the results of the residential soil screenings?
The soil screening results will be given to the IDPH for evaluation and interpretation. When IDPH staff complete their review, a copy of the soil screening results and the IDPH interpretation will be mailed to the residents whose soil was screened. It will take approximately three months for IDPH staff to complete their review of the data. After the results are released to the residents, Illinois EPA and IDPH staff will arrange to meet with local residents, either as a group or individually, to discuss the findings of the site investigation and any future actions that may be necessary at the site.
When will the results of the sediment and fish sampling from Pine Lake be available to the public?
Pine Lake sediment and fish samples will be sent to the Illinois EPA laboratories for analysis. The analysis of these samples usually takes between 2 and 4 months. In addition, fish samples are more difficult to process and may take additional time to analyze. After the data has been obtained from the samples, the results will be sent to IDPH for interpretation. After the interpretation is completed, Illinois EPA and IDPH staff will arrange to meet with local residents to discuss the findings of the site investigation and any future actions that may be necessary at the site.
How can lead affect my health?
Lead levels near the smelter may pose a health hazard, particularly to children, if ingested or inhaled in sufficient quantities. Individuals can be exposed to lead by breathing contaminated dust, by swallowing contaminated soil, and by eating food not thoroughly washed that has been grown in contaminated soil.
Exposure to contaminated soil is more dangerous to young children because of their frequent hand-to-mouth activity and their increased susceptibility to lead. Dust from contaminated soil can be tracked into the house on shoes and can end up on indoor surfaces and toys.
Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the human body. The most sensitive area of the body is the central nervous system, particularly in children. Exposure to lead is more dangerous in young and unborn children. Unborn children can be exposed to lead through their mothers. Harmful effects include premature births, smaller babies, decreased mental ability in infants, learning difficulties, and reduced growth in young children. These effects are more common after exposure to high levels of lead.
How can I reduce or prevent exposure to lead in the soil?
If lead contaminated soil exists around your home, you should take the following measures to protect your family from exposure:
- Practice good hygiene habits.
Wash children’s hands and faces frequently, especially before eating and bed time. Keep their fingernails clean and short. Adults should wash their hands before feeding their children, smoking, eating or drinking. Discourage children from placing fingers and non-food items in their mouths. Frequently clean toys or objects that children put in their mouths.
- Practice good housekeeping techniques.
Remove your shoes upon entering your home to prevent tracking contaminated soil inside. Store your outdoor shoes at entryways.
Vacuum your carpeting, rugs and upholstery often. Regular vacuuming will keep dust from accumulating.
- Create barriers to contaminated soil.
Removing debris, turning over the soil, sodding, covering with plastic or cement or excavating and disposing of contaminated soil will reduce exposure. The area should be kept moist while working with the soil to reduce dust formation. Ensure that the new soil is not contaminated. Do not disturb contaminated soil on windy days or when children or pregnant women are present.
Keep windows closed on windy days, at least on the windward side of the house. This will help to keep dust from being blown inside. Fences, bushes and grass help reduce the dispersion of contaminated soil. Thoroughly wash garden vegetables before eating them.
- Don’t let children play or dig in contaminated soil.
Build a sandbox with a bottom and fill it with clean sand to provide children with a safe play area.
How can I learn more about the site?
If you have any questions or comments about sampling, soil samples or future Illinois EPA activities, please contact:
Office of Site Evaluation
Collinsville Field Office
Office of Community Relations
If you have any questions or comments about the health effects of lead, please contact:
Illinois Department of Public Health