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High lead test near Los Angeles-area battery plant

VERNON, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities say tests have found elevated lead levels in the soil of 39 homes and a school near a Southern California battery recycling plant.

State officials announced the test results Monday. Officials ordered Exide Technologies in Vernon to perform more tests and gave the company until March 21 to come up with a plan to protect children and pregnant women in the area.

They say the lead levels aren't an immediate health threat but they're urging people to keep children away from bare soil and thoroughly wash their hands.

In a statement, Exide emphasized that while some tests exceeded the guidelines of the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment they were below the maximums allowed by the Department of Public Health.

In January, regional air quality officials sued Exide for $40 million, claiming the plant exposed people to cancer-causing chemicals.

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