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West Orange Lead Sampling

Site Contact:
Michael Sivak
Superfund Branch Manager


Site Location:
Gregory Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052

EPA conducted soil lead sampling in an area near some telecom cables in West Orange, NJ on August 1, 2023. EPA’s scientific review of the data and current conditions in the area indicate that there are no immediate threats to the health of people nearby.

The results do show that some soil samples have lead concentrations above an EPA screening level of 400 parts per million. All areas tested were primarily from areas covered with grass. Grass provides a natural barrier to reduce exposure and a good cover to prevent soil dust from being easily kicked up. EPA’s assessment of the data takes into account that most of the areas sampled are covered with grass and are not where children gather for long periods of time.

EPA has established a national working group to consider next steps to ensure the public remains safe. These steps may include further analyses in West Orange to better understand if the cables have released and continue to release lead. Any future actions will be done in coordination with state and local leaders, and the public will remain informed of any actions taken.

There is no safe level of lead exposure. Young children are particularly at risk for health effects from exposure to lead, and EPA will take all actions within its authorities to ensure children are safe and protected from any potential exposure.

EPA is releasing this sampling data because we value full transparency. We have shared the sampling data and are coordinating closely with the town of West Orange, County of Essex, the school administration and state environmental and health experts. 

In addition to sampling, EPA has required major telecom companies to provide us with information needed to evaluate the nature and extent of releases or threatened releases of lead from telecommunications cables and equipment, including results of inspections the companies have undertaken, as well as sampling results and data.

Background on EPA Sampling Effort

EPA uses screening-level sampling to initially characterize soil lead concentrations. EPA sampled soil in publicly accessible areas directly underneath lead-covered telecom cables between the road and the sidewalk and in front of the Gregory Elementary School, on the opposite side of the street from the cables. EPA collected 192 samples underneath the cables across the street from the school at 30-foot intervals and at three different depths.  EPA also took 51 samples in front of the school at 100-foot intervals at the same three depths and were used to characterize lead concentrations.

In addition to sending the samples to be analyzed by a laboratory, EPA also took XRF readings of each sample taken. XRF is a handheld instrument that serves as a screening tool to estimate lead levels.  Quality assured lab analyzed results are considered more accurate. In this case, the XRF readings generally corresponded with the lab results.