arsenic


High arsenic levels on Pine Island prompted the state to get involved in Lee County's cleanup process. That came out of the most recent County Conservation 20/20 Committee meeting last week.  

Soil samples tested for arsenic on Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve came back “inconclusive.” The soil tests were prompted after high levels of arsenic were recently found in the groundwater there. Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 Committee, which owns and manages the land, met Wednesday, Jan. 31 to talk about the results and what comes next.

For decades during the 20th Century, the City of Fort Myers dumped lime sludge—a byproduct of the water treatment processes—in Dunbar, a predominately black neighborhood near downtown. Last year, tests were done on the dumpsite and high arsenic levels were discovered. Tuesday, the city council was briefed on an assessment of the site and what options the city has. 


Recent groundwater tests on a Lee County conservation property show levels of arsenic 30 times higher than the federal government allows in drinking water.

Not long after an investigative story appeared in the Fort Myers News Press, a “no trespassing” sign appeared on what was once considered public land in the heart of the Fort Myers’ Dunbar neighborhood.

That newspaper report found that the city dumped toxic sludge there 50 years ago, didn’t tell any of the neighbors, and haven’t cordoned off the area or cleaned it up.

 UPDATED: Friday, June 30, 2017 at 10:36 AM 

CORRECTION: WGCU originally wrote, "Acquaviva did not return WGCU’s calls for comment," but it should read "call."

Lee County is once again looking for the chemical arsenic on Pine Island. That’s after documents surfaced from a few years ago showing arsenic levels hundreds and sometimes thousands of times higher than the federal government allows on private and public lands.

Experts say this could’ve potentially harmed island residents and wildlife within the surrounding estuaries. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, but state and federal health officials say if high levels are consumed, it can make people sick and cause cancer.

Public records show state environmental officials knew about the high arsenic levels but decided to stop testing for it in 2015.

Ninety percent of all drinking water in Florida comes from wells. So it is a significant concern that a pesticide containing arsenic is still being sprayed on golf courses and other grassy areas, and finds its way into the groundwater.

The Environmental Protection Agency set about trying to ban MSMA from the market in 2006. But Congress, under pressure from the industry, blocked that action time and again, eventually taking the project away from EPA altogether.

Faucets with filtering devices appeared to reduce arsenic levels in Hernando County homes known to have tainted well water. The four-month Department of Health study compared urine levels of residents in homes with arsenic-laced wells to those whose wells had safe levels, according to the Tampa Bay Times.