Health testing offered after Northern Metal Recycling settles with Minneapolis

Residents living near Northern Metal Recycling in Minneapolis might soon be getting a knock at their door as part of a settlement deal with the recycling center.

After the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency charged that the facility was a contributing source of poor air quality, Northern Metal decided it will move to Becker, Minn

Now, in an effort to check on potentially elevated levels of lead, residents are being offered gift cards in exchange for blood tests. The tests will be conducted by an independent group.

At a Minneapolis City Council meeting, leaders got a first look at recommendations on how to spend more than half a million dollars in settlement money from Northern Metal Recycling.

Resident Adam Spees, who helped come up with the recommendations, said the pollution frustrated many in the Sheridan neighborhood. But now, he sees hope on the horizon.

“I think that people will have a better understanding of what they can do to help,” he said.

As part of an advisory committee, Spees spent months coming up with recommendations on how to help and educate residents impacted by the environment, particularly those in the Hawthorne, Bottineu and McKinley neighborhoods.

The proposal also calls for lead blood testing, holding asthma outreach events, conducting in-home consultations and providing products and services to reduce asthma.

“Some of those resources may or may not include special high-filtered vacuum cleaners, air filters, covers for pillows, mattresses and an extra inhaler…those kinds of things,” said Minneapolis Commissioner of Health Gretchen Musicant.

One of the incentives for participating in the tests includes a gift card with amounts starting at $50.

“It gives people a reason to allow people into their homes to make these kinds of assessments and to go through the most private areas in their home, and allow people to build that trust with the city,” Spees said.

The city health commissioner says that hundreds of families stand to benefit, but the proposal will need the council's full support this month before moving forward.

“Hopefully it will improve the understanding of lead and asthma, getting more information out there,” Spees said.