Hillsborough County is one of 18 in the nation that flunks a new air quality standard for lead that the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled Thursday.
The county's top air quality regulator says the violation is mostly the fault of one company, EnviroFocus Technologies, with a factory in East Tampa that recycles lead batteries.
"They take old car batteries in, melt them down and sell the lead back … to make new batteries," said Jerry Campbell of the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission.
The EPC has air monitors outside the EnviroFocus factory at 1901 N 66th St., off Orient Road, "that indicate it would not meet the new standard," Campbell said. The factory's owner, a Minnesota firm called Gopher Resource Corp., already has begun renovations that will help Hillsborough comply with the new standard by the deadline of 2017, he said.
EnviroFocus officials could not be reached for comment.
Exposure to even low levels of lead early in life can affect learning, IQ and memory in children. Lead also can cause cardiovascular, blood pressure and kidney problems in adults.
The new standard slashes the amount of lead allowed in the nation's air by 90 percent. EPA officials were under a federal court order to set a new health standard for lead by Wednesday.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.