Public health officials in Sarasota have issued an advisory for the old railroad corridor north of Little John Trail and east of McIntosh Road—after finding elevated levels of arsenic there. They’ve alerted nearby homeowners and a middle school. Officials found higher than normal arsenic levels in groundwater near the surface and in soil along the old railroad. They suspect it’s the result of pesticide use. The county was testing the area—hoping to use it for preservation and storm water storage. Now it can’t. The Sarasota County Health Department is issuing a precautionary advisory to avoid the area. McIntosh Middle School is restricting access across the property to students and is notifying parents. Health Department engineer Rob Bolesta says homeowners should take care in working outdoors.
“If they are mowing, as a precaution they should wear dust masks because they would be kicking up dust. We’ve also talked to some of the commercial lawn services there and recommended that they wear them as well. In addition after being out there in the back of their properties they would want to wash their hands, make sure their children wash their hands with soap and water before they eat or anything like that just to avoid any type of ingestion.”
Although arsenic is relatively stable and doesn’t typically travel from a contaminated site, crews will test nearby homes over the next few days—to determine the extent of the affected area. Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic may cause cancer of the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney, as well as skin pigmentation changes and thickening. The homes were built in the area in the mid-1980’s.
Thursday, 28 April 2005 01:00