Letter to the Editor

Lead detected in children across Missouri

Monday, April 1, 2002

To the editor:

Gov. Bob Holden announced recently he had forced Doe Run Co. to do something about children in Herculaneum, Mo., who are being poisoned by lead from the company's smelter. My husband works at Doe Run, and I am a registered nurse, so I have some insight into the situation.

The smelter has been there for 110 years. The Environmental Protection Agency was formed in 1970. Until then, emissions went unchecked. In 1980, Congress passed the Clean Air Act. What has been done since then at the smelter to clean up emissions should be put on a banner and waved as one of the greatest successes in the history of the EPA.

The latest study of lead in the blood of children under 6 years old found 32 children within 1 1/4 miles of the smelter with elevated lead levels. Screening data for all of Jefferson County shows 554 children under 6 years old with elevated lead levels in their blood. Statewide screening shows there are 35,221 children with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

So why is the state spending so much of its resources in Herculaneum? And why do the news media focus on 32 children while ignoring tens of thousands of others?


Ellsinore, Mo.