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Hillsborough County warns of elevated lead levels near a Tampa recycling plant

exterior of Gopher Resources plant
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Hillsborough County's Environmental Protection Commission issued an Air Pollution Precaution for the neighborhood around the Gopher Resources plant at 6505 Jewel Ave. in Tampa.

The county issued an air pollution precaution and is recommending residents avoid prolonged outdoor activities near the Gopher Resources plant.

Hillsborough County is warning residents of elevated lead levels near a battery recycling plant in Tampa.

On Friday, the county's Environmental Protection Commission issued an air pollution precaution for the neighborhood around the Gopher Resources Enviro-Focus plant at 6505 Jewel Ave.

Data from an air quality test performed Jan. 7 showed lead levels of 0.866 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter of air.

That's more than five times the 0.15 recommended by the EPC.

According to the statement, the national ambient air quality standard established to protect public health is 0.15 when averaged over three consecutive months.

Another test, performed Jan. 29, showed levels of .293, nearly twice the limit.

Although a three-week average shows the plant is currently within the allowable levels of pollutants in the air, the county said residents near the plant should avoid prolonged outdoor activities until further notice.

According to the statement, the EPC "initiated enforcement actions against Gopher Resources for air quality deficiencies within the plant" last year. It has also been performing random air tests in addition to the required federal sampling schedule.

The statement says other air pollutants can irritate lung tissue, but lead emissions "can be ingested and settle within the body, having a toxic effect on both humans and animals."

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