Fact Sheet 3
St. Louis Smelting And Refining Site
Fact Sheet #3
In March and April of 2002, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) conducted a site investigation in the area of the former St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company lead smelter. Many factors, including the past operations at the site, influenced the Illinois EPA’s decision to conduct this expanded site investigation.
Where is the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Site located?
The St. Louis Smelting and Refining Site, formerly known as the Collinwoods subdivision site, is located on the northeast side of the city of Collinsville. The site encompasses Pine Lake, Pine Lake subdivision, portions of Collinwoods subdivision and portions of California Avenue.
Between 1904 and 1933, the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company operated a lead smelter at the location that is now home to the Collinwoods and Pine Lake subdivisions. Historical maps indicate that the facility’s main operations occurred on approximately 24 acres east of Pine Lake and north of Pine Lake Road.
Soil Sample Results
What did the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company produce?
The company produced a variety of lead products including lead ingots, lead sheets and powdered lead. The lead smelting process also resulted in the production of large amounts of lead-bearing waste also known as slag. Slag is a mixture of lead and other elements, impurities and ash. Lead slag for this facility was disposed of in large piles on the site. One such pile existed on the south side of Pine Lake Road, starting across from the intersection of Lemontree Lane and extending to the Pine Lake Road cul-de-sac.
Is lead from the smelter is still in the soil?
In March 2002, project managers from the Illinois EPA conducted soil analysis for metals, including lead, at 31 residential properties. Soil samples were analyzed with an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device. Analysis results indicate that several residential areas including yards and drainage ways have been impacted by the past industrial operations. During the sampling event Illinois EPA project managers observed the remains of lead slag, chunks and particles. These observations were made primarily in areas surrounding Pine Lake Drive, Raintree Trail, Lemontree Lane, Banyan Tree Road, Pinehurst Court, and Pine Lake Road, as well as at Pine Lake and the small pond east of the Pine Lake Road cul-de-sac.
Has soil from Collinwoods Subdivision been sampled before?
Site sampling conducted in September 1986 and May 1991 indicated elevated levels of lead in the soil in some areas of the former smelter site. As a result of the high levels of lead in the soil, the Illinois EPA and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) conducted blood lead screenings of subdivision residents. Increased lead exposure and absorption would have resulted in elevated levels of lead in the blood. The blood lead screenings showed no abnormally high levels of lead in the blood of local residents.
How can lead affect my health?
Lead levels near the smelter may pose a health hazard, particularly to children, if ingested or inhaled in sufficient quantities. Individuals can be exposed to lead by breathing contaminated dust, by swallowing contaminated soil, and by eating unwashed food that was grown in contaminated soil.
Exposure to contaminated soil is more dangerous to young children because of their frequent hand-to-mouth activity and their increased susceptibility to lead. Dust from contaminated soil can be tracked into the house on shoes and can end up on indoor surfaces and toys.
Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the human body. The area of the body that is the most sensitive to lead is the central nervous system, particularly in children. Unborn children can also be exposed to lead through their mothers. Harmful effects include premature births, smaller babies, decreased mental ability in infants, learning difficulties, and reduced growth in young children. These effects are more common after exposure to high levels of lead.
How can I reduce or prevent exposure to lead in the soil?
If lead contaminated soil exists around your home, you should take the following measures to protect your family from exposure:
- Practice good hygiene habits.
Wash children’s hands and faces frequently, especially before eating and bed time. Keep their fingernails clean and short. Adults should wash their hands before feeding their children, smoking, eating or drinking. Discourage children from placing fingers and non-food items in their mouths. Frequently clean toys or objects that children put in their mouths.
- Practice good housekeeping techniques.
Remove your shoes upon entering your home to prevent tracking contaminated soil inside. Store your outdoor shoes at entryways.
Vacuum your carpeting, rugs and upholstery often. Regular vacuuming will keep dust from accumulating.
- Create barriers to contaminated soil.
Removing debris, turning over the soil, sodding, covering with plastic or cement or excavating and disposing of contaminated soil will reduce exposure. The area should be kept moist while working with the soil to reduce dust formation. Ensure that the new soil is not contaminated. Do not disturb contaminated soil on windy days or when children or pregnant women are present.
Keep windows closed on windy days, at least on the windward side of the house. This will help to keep dust from being blown inside. Fences, bushes and grass help reduce the dispersion of contaminated soil. Thoroughly wash garden vegetables before eating them.
- Don’t let children play or dig in contaminated soil.
Build a sandbox with a bottom and fill it with clean sand to provide children with a safe play area.
- Don’t let children play or dig in potentially contaminated sediments.
Do not allow children to play in the mud or sediments in drainage ways, in Pine Lake or in the Unnamed Pond located east of the Pine Lake Road cul-de-sac.
How can I find out if my child has been exposed to lead?
Based on the lead levels in the soil near the former St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company property, IDPH is recommending that all children six years old and younger that live or spend much of their time in the area have their blood tested for lead. All homes near and within the former company property have been sent a letter with this recommendation.
Testing your child is the only way to determine their lead exposure. All results are confidential. If you have your child’s blood lead tested, please request that a copy of the results be marked as confidential and sent to:
IDPH Edwardsville Regional Office
22 Kettle River Road
Glen Carbon, IL 62034
What will the Illinois EPA do next?
The Illinois EPA is working closely with other state agencies and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to determine what steps should be taken next. Future planned activities include additional investigations in the area and a public availability session where community members may obtain additional information and provide input on activities in the area.
How can I learn more about the site?
If you have any questions or comments about sampling, soil samples or future Illinois EPA activities, please contact:
Office of Site Evaluation
Collinsville Field Office
Office of Community Relations