Arsenic tests positive in Keaau housing
HILO » Residents in two housing areas of Keaau south of Hilo have arsenic levels in their bodies at acceptable limits, although there are elevated amounts of the substance once used as a herbicide in the soil, the state Department of Health announced yesterday.
The results of urine tests were made public following disclosure to residents of 8 1/2-Mile Camp and 9-Mile Camp on Saturday and Sunday.
A total of 33 people were tested, ages 10 to 88, the department said. A "few," all adults, had levels that were slightly elevated but still in the normal range. They will be offered retesting.
Although many people grow their own vegetables in the two housing areas, the vegetables from those gardens have arsenic levels similar to store-bought vegetables, the department said.
That led the department to theorize that people with slightly elevated levels got the arsenic from eating seafood, a known source of the element.
Arsenic contamination in the area was discovered in 2004 after a small hotel was proposed for Keaau. Construction has not yet started.