Lead is contaminating 68 properties throughout the Southside of Chattanooga, putting residents and especially children at risk for lead poisoning.

That’s according to the EPA, which is referring to the contaminated area as the Southside Chattanooga Lead Site.

The agency is proposing the area be added to a national priority list to help start the cleanup process.

The EPA started sampling soil on residential properties back in 2016.

In some areas lead was found in the top four inches of the soil. Since then they've cleared 15 yards that had dangerously high levels of lead; but, there's still many more that need to be cleared, which is a concern for local pediatricians.

“We know that it takes a long time to get things like this cleaned up; but, it is a concern that it's ongoing, and the longer it goes on the more at risk our children are in this area,” says local pediatrician, Dr. Ty Bullington.

At the Southside Community Health Center, Pediatrician Dr. Ty Bullington sees at least a dozen children a day.

But he says more and more parents are becoming concerned about lead poisoning.

“We always try to keep a level head as a medical provider and make sure that the parents aren't going to freak out when they have questions,” says Dr. Bullington.

But Dr. Bullington says they have a right to be concerned.

“Kids of all ages but especially these younger kids do explore with their mouths, they eat dirt, they do all kinds of gross things that kids are supposed to do so they are more at risk,” Dr. Bullington says.

It's why Dr. Bullington says the health center is pushing parents to take well checks more seriously.

The checks screen for exposure to various environmental hazards.

“Any type of hazard in the environment has been shown in numerous studies to be a detriment to the kids’ development and behavior, especially things like lead,” Dr. Bullington says.

The EPA says the surface soil at public parks where children play in the area were tested and are not contaminated with lead. However, they have not responded when asked for the list of properties that are.

The EPA says the cleanup will start after the remaining properties have been added to what's called the “Superfund Program's National Priorities List.”

We're told they're only removing lead from properties where children may be present.

In the meantime, they are asking residents to cover bare soil, stop any soil from getting inside, and wash your hands after touching any soil.