Parents raise concerns about contaminated park soil
COCONUT GROVE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The parents of a 5-year-old girl joined the rising chorus of South Florida families voicing concerns about the soil of a local park, which has tested positive for toxic chemicals.
Janice Anthony said she is worried about her daughter's health because she allowed her to play at Blanche Park in Coconut Grove virtually every day since she was 6 months old, potentially exposing her to heavy metals like lead and arsenic. "We played in the sand, dug, we made sandcastles," she said. "What's under there, six inches below?"
The Department of Environmental Resources tested the soil in the park a few weeks ago for heavy metal. The tests came back positive.
Frightened by the news, the Anthonys took their daughter to get tested for any type of heavy metal exposure. "We got the test [back]; she's high in lead," she said.
DERM officials said they are conducting more soil samples at Blanche Park, which is now covered with artificial turf. Parents, however, indicated the park did not always have this protective layer covering the ground.
Photos of the Anthonys' daughter taken in 2009 shows the toddler playing in the sand, and it's that dirt that concerns them. "If they had done ... these improvements years ago, I'd feel a lot better about it, but they're not taking true samples of the material that my daughter was in contact with," said Mark Anthony, the child's father.
The Anthonys said their daughter's occasional aches and pains may be a result of the heavy metals found in her body. "She does complain of headaches occasionally, and we don't give her aspirin, we give her an ice compress for that, but it's like every week or two," Mark Anthony said.
Dr. Gary Kramer, a local pediatrician, said dozens of concerned parents have called him about the traces of heavy metals found in the park. He said that, while he should believe this poses a huge health risk for their children, testing is always available.
"Clearly, if they were symptomatic, you'd be in here with them, and it would be something we would be talking about," Kramer said. "[If] they're not showing any symptoms, then do the testing if it's going to offer you some peace of mind."
DERM officials said they have taken dozens of more soil samples at Blanche Park and several other parks in the area. Results should be available Friday.
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