CEMEX neighors find heavy metals in dust
BY JOANNE IRWIN
� Neighbors within a half-mile of the CEMEX Lyons Cement Plant have
found heavy metals in the dust on their cars, porches and inside their
homes. These heavy metals are typically found in cement kiln dust, a
fine, toxic dust that is one potentially hazardous pollutant released
from the CEMEX plant. This dust can also burn skin, lungs and sensory
Lois Hickman, a local neighbor who found heavy metals in the dust
inside her home, said, �We want to know exactly where the cement dust
comes from. Unwashed trucks on the highway? Fugitive dust from the
plant? That will determine what CEMEX needs to do to clean up our
Another neighbor had dust samples tested from the top of their patio
glass table, which sits about 200 feet from highway 66, across the
street from the CEMEX. Barium, nickel, chromium and antimony were found
in the dust.
"Now that we know what's on our patio table, we are in the
process of testing the soil in our fields that are further back from
the highway to see what's out there."
Kayann Short, another CEMEX neighbor, said, "With these results, we
hope that the incoming manager at Cemex will get the point about tire
burning. A well-operated plant does not dust the neighborhood with
heavy metals. Don't even think about burning tires until current
operating practices are up to minimum State and Federal standards."
Two weeks ago, neighbors collected dust samples and submitted them to
Cardinal Environmental Laboratories, an independent lab in Ohio, for
analysis. Lab results revealed levels of chromium twice the level of
EPA health standards. Some types of chromium can cause cancer. Antimony
was also found, which is a metal that can cause heart and respiratory
These tests in local homes answer the neighbors' most pressing
question: "What is my family being exposed to by living near this
facility?" said Jaime Rall, program director for Colorado Citizens
Campaign (CCC), a statewide grassroots group formed to urge CEMEX to
reduce toxic emissions. "These results tell us we need more tests."
In the next few weeks, neighbors will test for mercury, which is
another toxin often found in cement kiln dust. Neighbors will also test
for the more dangerous forms of chromium.
Neighbors conducted these tests with the help of the CCC and Denny
Larson, director of Global Community Monitor, a San Francisco-based
nonprofit that assists communities worldwide to independently verify
air pollution and health concerns.
The CCC and Lyons neighbors have asked CEMEX executives for their data
to compare with these test results. CEMEX has not responded to these