Arsenic in Sand Causing Concern in Surfside

Monday, Jun 9, 2014  |  Updated 11:38 PM EDT
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Surfside Residents Not Sold on the Sand's Safety

Surfside Residents Not Sold on the Sand's Safety

A crowd of concerned citizens may descend on Surfside town hall Tuesday after tests uncovered the presence of arsenic in the sand. The test results were first unveiled at last week’s town commission meeting.

The chemical is known to cause swelling, vomiting, and in extreme cases, death. Residents said Monday that local lawmakers and outside experts said the arsenic levels found in the sand are not dangerous.

“I mean, we will have tomorrow another meeting, because we are very concerned and we don’t buy that message,” said Surfside resident Silvio Landell.

The Florida Department of Health said the arsenic levels are comparable to other coastal areas and that no health risks are posed. The DOH also said the sand is beach compatible. It’s a message that Surfside Town Manager Michael Crotty echoed in a recent statement to residents.

“The samples are consistent with generally expected arsenic levels in Florida soils/sediments that may be characterized by limestone deposits and coastal marine, seashell-derived material,” Crotty wrote in the memo.

The sand came from The Surf Club construction site and was moved over to Surfside Beach. Neighbors said, given where the sand came from; their major concern is that there’s more than just sand under their feet.

“We don’t know what was used and what penetrated into the sand,” Landell said.

Other residents said the sand was darker and had a different texture than it used to in years past. Scientists said the color will likely change over the summer as the sand will likely get bleached.

“From what scientists have said, and the meetings that we’ve had, I think that in maybe a few months things will look much better,” said Surfside resident Martha Castro.

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