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An extensive investigation by the Reuters news agency has found that many children living on U.S. military bases may be exposed to hazardous levels of lead in decaying family housing. The investigation included tests done at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on samples of water, soil, and paint, from homes on seven bases. As a result of the report, a bipartisan group of four U.S. senators, in part citing the tests, has asked the Army for its own report on the problem, and immediate strategies to address it.
Reuters collaborated with Lamont last year in a separate report that cited high levels of lead in the soil of Brooklyn backyards and parks. After that, geochemist Alexander van Geen agreed to supply compact sampling kits for the military investigation. Reuters distributed the kits to selected families on bases in Georgia, Texas, Kentucky and New York. The families or reporters collected the samples and shipped them back to Lamont. Van Geen arranged for samples to be shipped back without return addresses so that he would be blind to their origins.
Analyses - Problems - Water - Soil - Results
Analyses revealed no problems with water or soil, but the results on paint were alarming. At Georgia's Ft. Benning, exposed paint chips in reach of children in from five homes all held hazardous levels of lead–in one case, 58 times the permissible limit. At New York's West Point, chips falling from one family's front door was 19 times the federal safety limit. At Kentucky's Ft. Knox, paint peeling off...
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