Hexavalent chromium, a metal used in industrial production that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coined a "well-established carcinogen," has reportedly has been spreading under Garfield, N.J., putting roughly one-tenth of the city's homes at risk.
ABC Local reports that Garfield residents' toenails will actually be serve to provide confirmation as to whether or not an estimated 600 structures and 3,600 people are at risk of the contaminate
The Environmental Protection Agency will reportedly begin drilling into the spill site soon in order to determine the amount of chromium that's sitting beneath the ground. They'll also attempt to remove the infected soil.
The agency will be experimenting on an even broader area as well in order to determine the best possible solution for cleanup.
Currently, a group of New York University scientists are in the process of evaluating how much chromium the residents may have exposed themselves to.
Firstly, the researchers will be collecting toenail clippings from the city's residents. The nails will then be tested for any traces of chromium.
Since toenails grow slowly, it's feasible to find out just how much chromium has accumulated inside the human body over the past 18 months or so, according to Judith Zelikoff, a professor of environmental medicine at New York University.
"Our major goal is to try to relieve their fears. With the economy, they can't sell their homes. They don't know if they got exposed," she said.
The news station also reported that the chromium contamination began 30 years ago, when thousands of pounds of hexavalent chromium had leaked from a tank at the EC Electroplating Co. in California. It was the same stuff that got Californians sick in the Erin Brockovich story. The contaminate was discovered at a now shut down firehouse and later inside homes in the vicinity in 1993.