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EPA Finds Lead in Plants and Animals at Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund Site

Release Date: 12/28/2006
Contact Information: Mary Mears (212) 637-3673; mears.mary@epa.gov

(New York, NY) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found lead that may be related to waste disposal in several plants, small mammals and frogs collected from the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site.

EPA collected and sampled Queen Anne’s lace, small mammals including shrews, voles and mice, frogs and crayfish for metals, PCBs and semi-volatile chemicals, contaminants associated with the site. Queen Anne’s lace, a wild carrot, can be consumed by people and wildlife. The small mammals, which are not eaten by people, were collected as ecological indicators to determine if they were affected by contaminants at the site. As a basis for comparison, plants and animals were collected from areas in which contamination is present and from outside the site.

EPA had previously reported that lead was found in one of six squirrels from the site. EPA is addressing contamination at the Ringwood site through a comprehensive cleanup being conducted by Ford with EPA oversight.

Information on plants and animals sampled:

  • Plants: Nine total samples of Queen Anne’s lace were collected at known waste disposal areas and three samples were collected off the Ringwood site. Lead levels in the nine on-site plant samples ranged from 3.55 parts per million (ppm) to 48.4 ppm. Lead in the three off-site samples ranged from non-detectable levels to 12.6 ppm, and lead in two of the nine on-site samples exceeded 12.6 ppm.
  • Small mammals: A total of 23 shrews, voles and mice were collected at waste disposal areas and nine samples were taken from off the Ringwood site. Lead in the 23 on-site small mammal samples ranged from non-detectable levels to 292 ppm. Lead in the nine off-site samples ranged from non-detectable levels to 120 ppm, and three of the 23 on-site samples exceeded 120 ppm.
  • Frogs: Lead was detected in one of nine frogs collected at the site. The level was 4.59 ppm in the frog, collected at the Peters Mine Pit Area. That level was slightly less than the level of 6.71 ppm detected in a frog from outside the Ringwood site.
  • Crayfish: Lead was not detected in several crayfish sampled.
  • No PCBs or semi-volatile chemicals were detected in any of the plants or animals sampled.

EPA will continue to analyze this data and consult with federal and New Jersey health and environmental agencies to assess possible human health risks, and will share those findings when they are available. To review the data and for more information about the Ringwood site, go to
http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/ringwood.

Next week, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection plans to collect deer at the Ringwood site as part of EPA’s study. EPA is also working with federal and New Jersey health and environmental agencies to assess the risk to people of consuming squirrels at the Ringwood site, and will share that data when it is available.