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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency's latest Toxic Release Inventory, with tighter company reporting standards, indicates more lead has been released into Utah's environment than indicated in previous reports.
The new report said 66 Utah companies reported releasing nearly 107 million pounds of the metal into the air, land and water in 2001. Under the previous year's reporting standards, under just 23 Utah companies were required to report, lead releases were about 70 million pounds.
Considering all toxic pollutants, Utah followed a national trend of declining releases. In 2001, 179 Utah companies reported discharging 767 million pounds of toxic chemicals, down 19 percent from a year earlier.
Nationwide, total chemical releases declined by 13 percent, from 7.1 billion pounds in 2000 to 6.2 billion pounds in 2001.
Utah kept its No. 2 national ranking for toxic releases behind Nevada, which had 783 million pounds.
More lead is being reported this year because EPA lowered its threshold for companies that use lead or release it. Previously, companies did not have to report on lead unless they used at least 10,000 pounds or produced more than 25,000 pounds.
Under the new reporting requirements, 100 pounds is the trigger.
Even small amounts of lead can lead to learning disabilities, low IQs, neurological problems, kidney damage, anemia and other maladies. Lead also can cause cancer.
Ilene Risk, a principle investigator with Salt Lake County's Lead-Free Kids program, said children -- those ages 6 months to 6 years, in particular -- face the greatest risk of exposure, usually from lead-based paint on houses built before 1978.
The only way to protect them is to prevent them from ingesting lead because lead poisoning cannot be reversed.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)