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EPA in Kansas

Former United Zinc and Associated Smelters Superfund Site, Iola, Allen County, Kansas - Fact Sheet, July 2017

EPA Removal Action Update


Iola, Kan., was the home of several zinc and lead smelting plants during the early 1900s. These plants were demolished long ago. However, the lead contamination these smelters distributed throughout the city of Iola still remains as a health risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 has a responsibility to address risks to human health and the environment posed by this contamination.


EPA began testing residential soil for lead contamination in 2006. Approximately 1,500 properties were tested by the time sampling concluded in 2007. Cleanups of properties with 800 parts per million (ppm) or more were performed during the testing effort. In 2013, EPA returned to Iola to test residential properties that were not tested in 2006-2007. The 2013 testing identified about 1,050 properties above the screening level of 400 ppm. Approximately 380 of these properties have lead at or above 800 ppm.


EPA will continue the cleanup of residential properties with lead concentrations above 800 ppm.

The cleanup will continue to address lead contamination at schools, daycares, and residences. Owners of homes that qualify for cleanup will be contacted to make arrangements for cleanup. These cleanups will be done at no cost to the homeowner.


While the cleanups of properties with lead at levels greater than 800 ppm are being performed, EPA will make plans to clean up properties that have lead between 400 and 800 ppm. A comprehensive plan for addressing lead in soil is now being developed. EPA intends to make the plan available for public comment before the end of the calendar year.
  1. EPA will address cleanup of all residential soils with 400 ppm lead or more.
  2. Cleanup of properties with lead between 400 and 800 ppm will begin once this plan is finalized in 2018.


Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Children are more sensitive to lead than adults, and can develop lifelong learning disabilities and behavior problems from lead exposure. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should also avoid exposure to lead to protect their children. Lead poisoning can cause these health effects in infants and young children:
  • Slowed physical growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Nervous system damage
  • Learning difficulties
  • Behavior problems including hyperactivity (easily excitable or upset, unable to concentrate, short attention span)
  • Decreased intelligence (I.Q.) scores

For more information about lead, visit ATSDR’s online fact sheet.

Lead exposure and its effects can be reduced by:
  • Washing hands after playing outside and before meals
  • Vacuuming often and dusting with a damp cloth to help remove dust that might have lead in it
  • Eating a diet high in calcium and iron and low in fat


The only way to know if your child has elevated blood lead levels is to have his or her blood tested. EPA encourages parents to have their children tested for lead exposure. You can contact your private physician or the Southeast Kansas Health Department for a blood testing location.

SEK Multi-County Health Department
221 South Jefferson Avenue
Iola, KS 66749


An Administrative Record was established for the Former United Zinc and Associated Smelters Superfund Site. The Administrative Record contains site-related documents and is available for review at the following locations:

Iola Public Library
218 E Madison Avenue
Iola, KS 66749
EPA Region 7 Records Office
11201 Renner Boulevard 
Lenexa, KS 66219

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the following:

Randy Schademann
On-Scene Coordinator
U.S. EPA, Region 7
501 North State Street
Iola, KS 66749
Phone: 620-204-8638

Tamara Freeman
Community Engagement Specialist 
Enforcement Coordination Office
U.S. EPA, Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, Kansas 66219
Toll-free: 1-800-223-0425