Tampa factory exposed hundreds of workers to high lead levels for a decade
The Tampa Bay Times dropped part one of its "Poisoned" series Wednesday — an investigative look into the dangers of the Gopher Resource, a lead-smelting factory in Tampa.
Why it matters: The only lead smelter in the state, Gopher employs more 300 people — mostly Black or immigrants — and they've been exposed to dangerously high lead levels for a decade.
- "Regular tasks" left workers "caked with [lead] dust, as though they'd been dunked in powdered sugar."
- Health department records show the plant is why Hillsborough has more adult lead poisoning cases than any other county in the state.
- The reporters examined thousands of pages of regulatory reports and company documents, including data tracking the amount of lead in the air and in workers’ blood.
Points of intrigue:
- Gopher's company-contracted doctor didn’t tell workers their blood-lead levels put them in danger and cleared them for work even when they had lead-related health problems.
- The company hasn't crossed OSHA's line for the maximum amount of lead allowed inside a worker’s body — but the Times points out that standard was established 42 years ago, and health officials have called it "out of touch with modern science."
More Tampa Bay stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.