More Than 200 East Chicago Homes Contain High Levels Of Lead, Arsenic

(CBS) — Thousands of people who live in a housing development in Northwest Indiana learned their yards were contaminated by lead, and they were forced to move out. Now,  hundreds of homeowners are learning the same fate.

More than 400 homes in East Chicago, Indiana, near Kennedy and Chicago Avenues, were tested, and more than 200 families learned their homes were contaminated with lead, CBS 2’s Dorothy reports.

And one of them was on Euclid street. EPA crews dig up the soil in a back yard in the 4900 block of Euclid, because it contains high levels of arsenic, which can

New soil is replacing lead-contaminated soil in East Chicago, Ind. | CBS Chicago

New soil is replacing lead-contaminated soil in East Chicago, Ind. | CBS Chicago

cause stomach distress.

Two blocks away, crews fill a yard with clean sold after removing 12 inches contaminated with lead.

Lead can lead to learning disorders in children.

Robert Marion bought his house 30 years ago, where he raised his son. Now, he found out it's contaminated with high levels of arsenic.

Robert Marion bought his house 30 years ago, where he raised his son. Now, he found out it’s contaminated with high levels of arsenic.

Robert Marion bought his house 30 years ago, where he raised his son.

“They should have told us about that long time ago,” Marion says.

Homeowners like Marion only recently got letters with he disturbing news. “The results of your letter show lead is above safety,” Marion’s letter read.

Mauro Jemindez has lived nearby nearly 20 years. “I’m very upset about it,” he said. “I bought my home for $78,000 now it’s worth $40,000.”

This southeast community used to be surrounded by lead smelting plants that were built in the 1920’s and didn’t close until 1980’s. And when smelting plants were open, lead drifted into neighborhoods and got in yards.

Officials tested 411 homes in the neighborhood for lead and arsenic poisoning. Of them, 258 had high levels.

Residents admit they knew they were moving into an industrial area, but, “They didn’t expect to get sick. Or live in danger from it. That’s the sad part.”

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