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Posted at 4:33 a.m. EST Monday, November 8, 1999


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High levels of lead, chromium found at Marion County campus

MARION, Ohio (AP) -- Potentially dangerous levels of lead and chromium were found in soil samples taken from a Marion County school campus, The Marion Star reported.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July and August took 65 soil samples on the site that includes the River Valley middle and high schools.

The schools became the focus of an environmental investigation after studies found a higher than average number of leukemia cases among students and graduates, and an increase in leukemia deaths among Marion residents.

A soil sample taken at surface level at the rear of the middle school contained lead at 1,090 parts per million and chromium at 179 parts per million, both above expected levels, the newspaper reported Friday.

Lead, which can attack the kidneys, blood and nervous system, normally occurs in soil at about 17 parts per million, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Levels above 400 parts per million are considered unsafe.

Chromium is a metal used in alloys like stainless steel, welding, and making batteries, glass and pottery. The chemical can cause kidney damage and has been linked to lung and nasal-cavity cancers.

The EPA did not indicate what levels are considered hazardous for chromium.

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