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New study shows decreasing blood lead levels in Butte-Silver Bow

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Posted at 11:04 AM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 13:04:36-04

There is some good news for people in Butte as the most recent study by the Butte Residential Metal Abatement Program (RMAP) shows lower lead levels in residents’ blood.

"Lead levels have dramatically dropped since the inception of Superfund in Butte. Phase 2 did show that it started to level out a little bit, kind of plateau if you will, but it is plateauing throughout the nation," said Butte-Silver Bow Reclamation & Environmental Services Director Eric Hasler.

Lead levels are a driving force behind the Superfund site and the Butte Residentials Metals Abatement program’s bio-monitoring.

Lead can cause serious damage to a person’s body. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children under the age of six are more susceptible to lead poisoning since their bodies are still developing.

Lead can be found in paint used in homes that were built before the 1970s, pipes, water, soil, and dust. According to the CDC, concentrations of lead are higher where mining activity has or is occurring.

Morgan Hazlett was ecstatic to hear that blood lead levels have decreased in Butte.

"I think Butte can get a bad rap being a mining city but the efforts the community has gone through for cleanup, the amount of money spent on said clean up, you know, it’s great to see that that’s paying off," Hazlett said.

RMAP has moved on to Phase 3 which includes testing other toxins such as arsenic and mercury.

"The main driver and main exposure source is lead. But now through this process, we have determined that it would be a good addition to the program and the biomonitoring data to start being able to biomonitor for arsenic and mercury as well," Hassler said.

Residents who would like to obtain lead level testing can contact the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department for more information.