CHICAGO, September 22, 2016 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ordered H. Kramer & Co. to take immediate action to remove lead-contaminated soil in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.

The area where the EPA would like to sample residential soil for lead levels. Photo courtesy US EPA.
The residential soil area for lead clean up by Kramer.

CHICAGO, September 22, 2016 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ordered H. Kramer & Co. to take immediate action to remove lead-contaminated soil from at least 54 residential yards in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. H. Kramer has up to 30 days to comply with EPA’s unilateral administrative order and begin the cleanups.

To date, EPA has done lead testing at 58 Pilsen residences in a 25-acre area bounded by 18th Place to the north, an alley between Allport Street and Racine Avenue to the east, 21st Street to the south, and Loomis Street to the west. Results from EPA tests in the spring of this year at 34 properties show that 30 have lead concentrations above the Agency’s 400 ppm action level for lead in surface soil. Last week, EPA began notifying residents of their test results. In 2013, EPA had notified Pilsen residents that test results at 24 of 25 properties showed lead concentrations above the action level.

The 2013 results prompted EPA to initiate a robust community involvement and information program to warn Pilsen residents about lead risks and advise them on how to avoid exposure to lead. EPA also negotiated a December 2015 legal agreement with H. Kramer requiring the company to expand lead testing to the rest of the area. EPA is seeking access to another 57 residences in the area to continue lead soil testing.

EPA has an ongoing commitment to protecting public health in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods and has been investigating lead contamination in Pilsen since 2011, when it became involved with a cleanup at the former Loewenthal Smelter.

EPA continues to provide residents with information and advice in English and Spanish on how to avoid further contact with lead. Specifically, EPA advises residents to:

• cover any exposed soil with grass, mulch, gravel or pavement

• use raised beds or containers only for growing vegetables

• prevent children from playing in dirt or mulch

• wash children’s hands after they play outside

• wash children’s toys regularly

• wash hands thoroughly before preparing food, eating, or drinking

• regularly wet mop floors and wet wipe flat surfaces.

• remove shoes before going inside their homes

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