By Jeff Wagner


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Water Gremlin employees are now faced with decisions about their families’ health, and how to de-contaminate their homes.

The manufacturing plant at the center of several WCCO Investigations is closed over serious health risks to workers’ children.

The state says some employees of the White Bear Township company unknowingly brought pollution home with them, causing lead poisoning in their kids. It’s a problem that has now left hundreds of workers with uncertain futures.

A health provider found Amber Curry’s daughter, Ja’Naea, had a concerning level of lead in her blood.

“She’s not your average 4 year old,” Curry said.

It’s both a compliment, and unfortunately a concern for the Currys.

Amber and Ja’Naea Curry (credit: CBS)

“They told me that her’s was almost close enough that she would have to be hospitalized to remove the lead from her system,” Curry said.

The Ramsey County Health Department found Ja’Naea to be one of 12 kids with high levels of lead in their blood — all of whom have parents that work or worked at Water Gremlin. The state is ordering the company to temporarily cease operations involving lead production.

“And I think that they should take proper steps so it doesn’t go home to more children,” Curry said.

At the Vadnais Sports Center, a collection of state and county agencies are prepared to help Water Gremlin families with loss of employment and health concerns. The nonprofit East Side Neighborhood Development Company is there specifically to conduct free blood tests for lead.

“We are very serious about doing the lead testing. It helps put them to ease. They know where they’re at, they know what they have to do,” said Laura Clouser of East Side Neighborhood Development Company.

Families are also taught how to properly clean their homes since lead dust can be brought home on the body of the person exposed.

“We do a two-bucket cleaning system,” Clouser said. “We have one bucket of hot clean water, and one bucket with detergent. Not soap, but powdered detergent.”

Curry said during her husband’s employment at Water Gremlin, she had no idea what was necessary to keep her home and children free from lead poisoning.

“My husband has had his blood checked, yes, but all they do is send a letter saying you need to wash your hands, you need to not go outside on your breaks, but that’s not the only way you’re going to prevent the lead from spreading,” Curry said. “They should have showers for them to shower and completely change clothes there so it doesn’t even leave the building.”

Many of those agencies at the Vadnais Sports Center will be there Tuesday during normal business hours.

The East Side Neighborhood Development Company, which conducts the free blood tests, also does free home assessments for lead.

Click here to read more about WCCO’s investigations into Water Gremlin.

Jeff Wagner

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