Sparrows Point was less than a mile from Christine Gangi's home where she lived for 13 years, battling the kish that blew into her pool, yard and home. She says the steel mill ruined her life. (Jamie Smith Hopkins/Baltimore Sun video)

Barkley, who stayed, wishes she hadn't.

She and her husband moved in because the location and house were perfect, and she said she got assurances beforehand from the EPA that the steel mill was much cleaner than it had been.

But after years of kish, Barkley is haunted by fears that pollution affected her now-adult children's health in ways that might not yet be apparent.

"It's a burden I'll carry until I die," she said. "You don't know, and we'll probably never know."

The kish didn't stop after the 1997 agreement, Barkley said. It kept coming and coming, at least once and sometimes four or five times a week under Bethlehem Steel, she said.

In 2007, MDE ordered the mill's then-operator to take steps to limit the kish falling on nearby neighborhoods. The agency said it received far fewer kish complaints in recent years — zero since 2009 — and Barkley said the fallout events did decrease under the last few owners.

At the end, it was down to perhaps once a month, she said. But it still would come, and she'd always be braced for it.

"It didn't stop until they actually shut the plant down," she said.