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Pilsen Area Soil Site Assessment

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  • Chicago, IL (Cook County)

Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Heriberto León (leon.heriberto@epa.gov)
312-886-6163 or 800-621-8431, ext. 66163 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

On-Scene Coordiantor
Ramon Mendoza
312-886-4314 or 800-621-8431, ext. 64314

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EPA has been investigating lead contamination in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood since 2011, when it became involved with a cleanup at the former Loewenthal Smelter. Residents requested additional investigation into potential lead contamination given the area’s long industrial history.

In December 2012, EPA took soil samples from an alley behind the H. Kramer smelting facility. In 2013, EPA collected soil samples along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)-operated railroad spur between 21st Street and Cermak Road, as well as at several residential properties.

Site Updates | | Fact Sheets || Technical Documents

You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

November 2014 Status Update

map of Pilsen boundaries

Map showing Pilsen Soil Site Residential Area, Railroad and Alley - click to enlarge

Harrison map

Map showing Harrison Park Reference Area and Residential Area 3 - click to enlarge

U.S. EPA’s new report on lead contamination in soils in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood is now available.

EPA found that lead contamination in soil samples collected from two residential areas, as well as from the alley and railroad spur near the H. Kramer facility, came from an industrial source. The lead levels in soils from these areas are above EPA's action level. Consequently, EPA is now planning cleanup operations at these locations.

Sampling results from two additional residential areas in Pilsen--the Heart of Chicago neighborhood (labelled in the report as the Harrison Park Reference Area) and an area further east of the H. Kramer facility (labelled in the report as Residential Area 3) are inconclusive. EPA will take additional soil samples in these areas to determine the source of elevated levels of lead contamination.

The Agency will continue to work closely with the City of Chicago and local organizations to provide information and resources to residents so they can protect their families from lead contamination.

EPA is also exploring enforcement options against the parties potentially responsible for the lead contamination summarized in this report.

For information on how to protect you and your family from lead see the City of Chicago's Lead Poisoning Prevention page Exit EPA Disclaimer

Previous updates

Action Levels and Removal Management Levels

"action levels” are Removal Management Levels.

Removal Management Levels (RMLs) are to support the decision for EPA to undertake a removal action under CERCLA. They are risk-based, although not necessarily protective for long term exposures, concentrations derived from standardized equations combining exposure assumptions with toxicity data.

RMLs help identify areas, contaminants and conditions where a removal action may be appropriate.

Sites where contaminant concentrations fall below RMLs are not necessarily “clean,” and further action or study may be warranted under the Federal Superfund program.

In addition, sites with contaminant concentrations above the RMLs may not necessarily warrant a removal action dependent upon such factors as background concentrations, the use of site-specific exposure scenarios or other program considerations.

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