The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department has closed the athletic field at Chew Playground in Point Breeze after soil samples showed elevated levels of lead, according to city officials.
The adjoining playground, however, did not test positive for lead and remains open, officials said. They have called a community meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the field for park users and permit holders.
Officials did not say how much lead was found, only that the samples were taken during preparations for improvements at Chew. The field will remain closed pending further testing. If necessary, a lead abatement program will be undertaken before the field is reopened.
Formally known as Charles H. Chew Sr. Playground, the site encompasses 2.8 acres between Washington Avenue and Ellsworth Street, and South 18th and 19th Streets. The site contains playground equipment, a pool, basketball court, sports fields, and a community garden. A multi-purpose building hosts other activities.
Maita Soukup, a spokesperson with the department, said the athletic field is closed until action is taken to remediate it.
In a notice to park users, officials said they were closing the field “out of an abundance of caution.” They noted Philadelphia has an industrial past that left lead behind in some areas.
The city Department of Public Health notes that the primary source of lead exposure to children in Philadelphia is “lead-based paint and the dust produced from lead-based paint inside homes built before 1978.”
Lead can be toxic if swallowed or inhaled. It poses a health concern for children under age 6.
“The proportion of children with elevated blood lead levels is lower in Point Breeze, and the area around Chew Playground, than across the rest of the city,” the Department of Public Health said in a notice.