Once, the booming zinc and lead-producing town of Picher was home to 25,000 residents. But in the early 1980s, the EPA tests found the ground to be contaminated and incredibly hazardous. Giant piles of mine refuse, which were heaped throughout the area, were leaching toxic lead across the city and into the bloodstreams of its citizens. Tests showed that the blood of the city's children contained high levels of lead and, as a result, they were developing at a below average rate. Additionally, young and old were at risk of cave-ins in the town's rickety buildings.