While it is known that potentially harmful substances are present in the soil in the Newhall neighborhood, it does not mean residents will become sick. The risk of getting ill depends on how much direct contact a person has with these substances. Since 2000 the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has been studying where contamination is located and what type it is. At the same time, the Department of Public Health has been evaluating the available environmental data and possible health risks to Newhall residents.
The Department of Public Health (DPH) has looked into whether contaminant levels in soil are or were high enough to cause people to become sick. DPH has determined that contaminants in the soil are not high enough now, and were not high enough in the past, to have caused measurable increases in cancer among Newhall neighborhood residents.
As for illnesses other than cancer, past exposures to high amounts of lead in the soil at some residences could have caused blood lead levels in children to be too high. Fortunately, temporary cleanup of soil occurred at these residences a few years ago (when it was first discovered that lead levels in soil were extremely high). Blood lead reports maintained by the Quinnipiack Valley Health District tell us that there appears to be no evidence that the waste fill is causing high blood lead levels in children now. As for the past, we are not able to determine whether children who played years ago in soil with very high levels of lead might have become lead poisoned from the soil in their yards.
Even though we cannot say for sure whether high lead exposure from the soil happened in the past, it is still very important to clean up the soil that is contaminated with lead and other contaminants, to prevent exposures from happening in the future.
This section will provide information on what contamination is, what chemicals were found in the Newhall neighborhood, how it got there, how people can be exposed to pollution and what people can do now to protect themselves.