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updated: 2/8/2013 4:31 PM

EPA to clean up lead-contaminated lot in Chicago

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Associated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will remove lead-contaminated soil from a lot near a Chicago elementary school.

The agency this week said results of soil sampling showed lead levels as high as 1,200 parts per million near the surface at the half-acre lot in the city's mostly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood. That's three times the threshold set by the EPA.

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Lead can cause learning and behavior problems in children.

The pollution came from the former Loewenthal Metals smelter, which operated on the site about 70 years ago. The EPA says it also will check lead levels on nearby properties.

State environmental officials identified the contamination in 2006, but didn't refer the matter to the U.S. EPA until 2011.

The city erected a fence around the site two months ago.

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