Results from Blood Testing on Black Leaf Residents Will Be Released on Saturday

Researchers will release the overall results of blood testing on residents living close to a former pesticide plant in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood this weekend.

For years, the Black Leaf chemical plant produced pesticides, and recently, regulators discovered both the site itself and 77 nearby yards were contaminated. The residential sites are undergoing remediation, but researchers at the University of Louisville wanted to see whether materials like lead and arsenic were present in large quantities in residents’ blood streams. They took blood samples last year, and will release the overall results on Saturday.

Here’s what Dr. Matthew Cave had to say about the tests last August:

“We want to provide feedback to residents who live near the Black Leaf site to allow them to know what their levels of certain pollutants are. So that’s kind of a patient care issue,” he said. “And secondly we want to analyze it from a research perspective to see if people in the area do have higher levels as a group.”

Soil testing has only been conducted on homes that are directly adjacent to the plant, but Cave is opening up his study to people who live within four blocks.

Cave already has $5,000 in funding from the University of Louisville and Councilman David James’s office. That’s enough to test 100 people for high levels of lead and arsenic.

Right now, Cave is hoping to collect blood, urine and hair samples from neighborhood residents. Some of the blood and urine will be analyzed for lead and arsenic, but some will be frozen. If he gets the funding, Cave plans to use the materials to study levels of pesticides and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in residents. Those tests are about $300 each per person, so he’ll need additional funding.

If that funding comes through, Cave says it also opens up the possibility of studying people’s levels over time, both before and after remediation.

“Hopefully levels aren’t high, but hopefully if they are they’ll come down over time,” he said. “It seems like a simple concept, but I’m not sure that’s ever been demonstrated in Kentucky. I don’t think it has.”

The data that will be released on Saturday will just be for the participants as a group, and won’t be separated into individual results. The meeting is January 11at 10am at the California Community Center at 1600 W. St. Catherine Street.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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