Study finds elevated chromium levels in Garfield residents

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GARFIELD, N.J. (PIX11) — The testing of toenail clippings taken from 47 people who live above a plume of contaminated groundwater in Garfield, New Jersey showed those people absorbed 30 times more chromium than people who live outside of Superfund zone.

The results of the New York University study led by Dr. Judy Zelikoff were released on Tuesday. The detected levels of chromium are not considered high enough to pose a health risk.

“Even though it’s under what the state considers to be an actionable level, I still have some concerns,” said Garfield City Manager, Thomas Duch.

“What could be done is blood testing over the next six months, a year, to see if there’s any increase in the measurement, any change in the status, that could be a next possible step.”

The contamination comes from the former E.C. Electroplating plant, where in 1983 3 tons of a cancer-causing type of chromium spilled and spread under the densely populated neighborhood.

Seventy percent of the chromium was still in the ground, when the state Department of Environmental Protection stopped cleanup efforts in 1985.

The chromium has made its way into the basements of about 20 homes, businesses and other properties.

“I do worry,” said 64-year-old Don Calderio, who has lived in the affected area his whole life.

He and his wife could not take part in the NYU study because they both smoke. He said samples of his basement floor were tested and showed nothing harmful.

There’s enough funding for about a year and a half for scientists to study the best way how to eliminate any remaining chromium. But the means of funding the actual cleanup is still up in the air.