Lead (Pb) Monitoring in Belding, Michigan

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is found just about everywhere at low levels in air, water, soil and food. Higher levels could be due to the historical uses of lead in gasoline and paint, and from the air emissions of lead-related industries. Lead particles can be found in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, and in the things we touch - and in higher levels can be harmful. Progress has been made in reducing levels of lead in our environment, and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) remains focused on achieving even more. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) protects public health by setting limits on how much lead can be in outdoor air. In November 2008, the US EPA lowered those limits because health research data showed that it would better protect public health. The limits were lowered from 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter, which makes the new limit 10 times lower than the previous one.

Michigan Air Emissions Reporting System data showed that four facilities in Michigan were emitting 1 ton or more per year of lead. Mueller Industries' Belding location was one of those facilities. Further evaluation and computer modeling showed that Mueller was likely to exceed the new protective health standard; therefore a monitor was installed in January 2010.  Over the spring and summer months of 2010, the monitor recorded lead levels that exceeded the US EPA's new, stricter standard. The highest three-month lead level thus far has been 0.28 micrograms per cubic meter, or roughly two times the acceptable standard.  Monitoring will continue at the site in Belding until it shows three consecutive years of meeting the health standard.  For more information, please review the fact sheet from the September 23, 2010 public meeting.

Technical Information
In July of 2011 DEQ installed a second lead monitor on Reed Street in Belding to determine how lead concentrations varied further downwind. The Reed Street monitor showed an initial three-month average exceedance of the standard in September 2011. Monitor results since that time have shown compliance with the three-month average NAAQS limit. Results from the Merrick Street monitor have shown compliance with the NAAQS for lead since November 2010.

The DEQ continues to monitor lead levels in the ambient air and will do so until the site meets the US EPA's protective health standard for at least three years. In addition, the department has completed soil testing. Below is the most recent data available. Please routinely check this section of the webpage for technical information updates.

Recent EPA Actions finalized Michigan's lead designations for the new NAAQS.

Submittal to EPA of 2008 NAAQS Lead Nonattainment SIP (07/2013)
EPA Letter to Michigan's Governor 
Final Designation for 2008 NAAQS 
Belding Technical Support Document for 2008 NAAQS Designations

Public Outreach
The DEQ (formerly known as the DNRE) committed to working with Mueller Industries to remedy the situation and ensure that proper actions were taken. The DEQ is working with the Belding community and state and local agencies to keep the people of Belding informed about progress, answering all residents' questions, connecting them to the best health information resources and ensuring accurate information is shared. The following is information shared (to date):

All DEQ documents are public records available for viewing and copying under the Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) by submitting an E-mail request to deqfoia@michigan.gov

What is Being Done to Lower the Airborne Lead Levels in Belding?
Mueller Industries operates equipment that emits lead during the brass rod making process.  The equipment operates under Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) air permits that restrict the emissions of air contaminants, including lead, and require control devices that reduce air emissions.  At the request of the DEQ, on September 28, 2009, Mueller Industries conducted testing to evaluate the air emissions.  Test results showed the West Chip Dryer exceeded permitted emission limits.  On December 28, 2009, the DEQ issued a violation notice for the emission exceedance. 

In response, Mueller industries modified its control equipment and in June 2010, preliminary testing revealed reduced lead emissions.  To control emissions further, an enhanced scrubber system was installed on the West Chip Dryer during the week of September 13, 2010.  New testing was conducted October 1, 2010, which determined that lead emissions from the West Chip Dryer were in compliance with the permitted limits.  To further assure that lead emissions from the facility are in compliance with permitted limits, testing was conducted November 4-5, 2010, on the East and West Bag houses which control emissions from the facility's three brass melting furnaces.  The test results showed the emissions from the brass melting furnaces were in compliance with the permitted limits.

Soil Sampling and Cleanup in Belding
September 23, 2010 - DEQ Public Meeting to present the Air Quality data to the public. The Remediation and Redevelopment Division commits to soil sampling.

October 11 - 13, 2010 - DEQ-RD collects 375 XRF screening and 10 lab soil samples from 51 properties, as well as Road right-of ways, parks and Ellis School.

November 23, 2010 - Meeting with Mueller-Company committed to comply with DEQ Request.

January 12, 2011 - Public Meeting to present results of DEQ-RRD soil sampling.

May 25 - June 17, 2011 - Advanced GeoServices performed Remedial Investigation on 49 properties for Mueller- Identified 12 properties for Remediation. DEQ Requested an additional 4 properties for Remediation based on the DEQ Soil Samples.

September 14 - 20, 2011 - Advanced GeoServices and Remediation Division Combined Multi Incremental Sampling.

October 4, 2011 - Soil Excavation Activities began. 436 tons of lead impacted soil were excavated to a minimum depth of 3 inches at 16 properties using a combination of vacuum truck, mini-excavator skid steer, and hand shovel.

  • Dust monitoring was performed within the excavation area during all excavation activities.
  • Confirmation sampling was performed using nine XRF samples from each excavation area. If the result was above 400 mg/L the excavation was excavated an additional 3 inches.
  • Clean topsoil, that was evaluated for organic content, as well as the ability to promote and sustain grass growth, was backfilled into the excavations and hydro-seeded.                          
  • Erosion mats consisting of coconut shell fibers were placed over the excavation areas.

October 10, 2011 - Public Meeting for new air permit

October 26, 2011 - Remediation completed.

January 18, 2012 - Mueller submitted a Request for DEQ Review of a No Further Action Report.

April 4, 2012 - DEQ Approval of No Further Action Report.

As of today, all of the residential properties to the east of the Mueller Industries-Extruded Metals, facility meet the State lead clean-up standard for residential property of 400 mg/kg (ppm).

DEQ Contacts

Health Department Contacts

MI Department of Community Health - Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

  • www.michigan.gov/leadsafe or 517-335-8885 or 888-322-4453
    Ionia County Health Department (ICHD)
  • Parents who want their children lead-tested should contact their primary care physician or Kay Houseman of ICHD, 616-527-5341

Other Helpful Lead-Information Links

DEQ Environmental Lead (Pb) 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency