"It's just been left," Zelikoff said. "A lot of people made mistakes."
Zelikoff and her team hope to test as many as 250 residents; some must live close to the plume and others about 3 miles away as a control group. When residents sign up, they will be given a kit that contains stainless steel toenail clippers (cheap ones contain chrome), instructions on how to clip the nails (samples from all 10 are needed) and an envelope for the clippings. It will take weeks to know the results, and people will be advised by public health nurses and others once the results return.
Test subjects must be between 18 and 65, have lived in Garfield for at least two years, not take chromium supplements, and not smoke.
Many residents are immigrants and relative newcomers, and some don't know about the contamination, Zelikoff said. City officials are working to educate residents, disseminating information about the cleanup to local churches and in four languages: English, Spanish, Polish and Macedonian, said city manager Tom Duch.Duch said an initial health consultation indicates that there's no higher incidence of cancer in the neighborhood than anywhere else in the city, but he thinks the issue needs additional scientific testing. "I have some concerns," Duch said. "There are residents who have come to meetings and said, 'This one died, that one died,' and I think it warrants further investigation." ___ Follow Zezima at http://www.twitter.com/katiezez