Freeport residents to be tested for chemical exposure

April 11, 2012 3:34:59 PM PDT
Frightening thoughts for hundreds of residents in Freeport who are being told the state would like to test them for potentially dangerous metal exposure. Health officials are trying to get a grasp on whether families who live near a chemical company were exposed.

The company in question is Gulf Chemical on Midway Road.

Hundreds of people living in Freeport may have been exposed to those metals. Now they are very much concerned, even though health officials say this testing is just precautionary.

State health officials Wednesday were going door to door in Freeport, passing out a brightly colored letter offering a test which will determine whether those who live here have been exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals: cobalt, molybdenum and nickel. They've been found there in both the air and soil.

"The kind of exposures in a neighborhood, would be in the air, soil, where people were playing in their gardens or children were playing outside," said Dr. Carrie Bradford with the DSHS.

The origin of the metals has not yet been released publicly by the state. Officials, however, at nearby Gulf Chemical and Metallurgical Corporation admit they produce the metals as a byproduct of their operation.

A company executive told us in 2010 it then pled to 11 felony charges related to violations of the Clean Water Act, paying a $2.5 million fine. That spokesperson though wouldn't comment further on the testing other than to say, "we welcome the testing."

"Yeah, it does concern me," said Freeport resident Paul Prezz.

He is one of many in Freeport who Wednesday received notice of the testing. He welcomes it also and wants to know to what he's been exposed.

"I tell you what, it concerns me to the point that if I could, I'd leave," Prezz said.

Effects of the metals depend greatly on exposure. In rare instances, some have been shown to cause cancer.

If more than 300 people come out we're told the state will choose 300 to test at random.

The collections will take place May 3-6 at the Freeport Historical Museum, 311 East Park.

Collection will take place at the following times:

  • May 3 from 4pm - 7pm
  • May 4 from 10am - 7pm
  • May 5 from 10am - 7pm
  • May 6 from 1pm - 6pm

Residents can pick up urine collection cups with sample collection instructions at the clinic and can drop off their urine samples for testing. No appointment is needed, however urine samples must be provided to DSHS staff before 6pm on May 6.


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