A portion of Eagan is among 16 areas nationwide identified as having too much lead in the air.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released the list of counties that did not meet a more stringent standard for lead pollution set in 2008.

That year, the agency changed the standard for lead in the air to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter from the previous standard of 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter.

Dakota County made the list this year because of lead readings around Gopher Resource Corp., a company that processes lead-acid batteries. It's located on Dodd Road in Eagan.

From 2007 to 2009, the lead level at that site was 0.7 micrograms per cubic meter.

Exposure to lead can cause a variety of ailments, affecting the nervous system, kidney function and development. Children are particularly sensitive to it.

Officials said the heightened lead levels are confined to a small area around the business.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is working with Gopher Resource to clear the air by 2015.

"They take it very seriously and they believe they can attain the standards," said Gordon Andersson, a planner with the MPCA.

Gopher Resource spent $2.3 million to install equipment to contain more of the lead after learning about the stricter standards. Since then, Andersson said, most readings have been in compliance.

Gopher Resource processes and disposes of millions of lead-acid batteries and other lead products each year.

Stephen Yates, the company's environmental health and safety manager, said Gopher Resource plans to comply with the regulations.

"We're right in the middle of town and we realize that people are aware of lead and the concerns associated with it," Yates said.

Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056