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Anaconda officials to widen arsenic, lead search at parks

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ANACONDA, Mont. (AP) – Anaconda-Deer Lodge county officials have decided to expand their search for lead and arsenic at parks in Anaconda.

County officials had originally planned to test sand boxes and sand play areas, but said they are widening their search to any area where humans have direct contact with soil, the Montana Standard reported. The additional testing will take place at six different parks, 25 infields, two volleyball courts and multiple pits and playgrounds.

County officials say the testing will go down to a depth of 18 inches. That’s 6 inches deeper than the Environmental Protection Agency’s testing in Anaconda.

“We want to err on the side of caution,” Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Chief Executive Bill Everett said Friday. The testing resumed Monday and continue through Wednesday, he said.

The efforts began after the EPA began retesting yards near Benny Goodman Park last year and found high levels of lead. The findings prompted the county to conduct its own tests at Benny Goodman Park in late April. Officials found high levels of arsenic or lead and in some cases both at different levels of dirt.

The EPA has not released a statement on the findings at the park.

County crews removed 650 cubic yards of sand this week from a play area, and the old sand was replaced with new sand, Everett said.

He said he believes kids should be able to play in sand at Benny Goodman Park without risks of exposures to contaminants by Monday.

The rest of the park may not get cleaned up until next summer.

The county has offered to test sand box and sand play areas at residents’ homes for free, Everett said.

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