CHICAGO (CBS)–The Environmental Protection Agency tore down the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana after high lead levels were discovered in the soil in 2016. The Indiana Department of Health says the finding has prompted more than 2,200 East Chicago residents to get blood tests, but it’s not enough.
Since the demolition of the housing complex, the EPA says it has been working closely with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement safety measures including the installation of air-quality monitors, dust-control measures and stormwater run-off control–but the effectiveness of those plans can only be measured by testing the levels of lead in the blood of East Chicago residents.
Residents in a part of the area known as “zone 2” weren’t forced to leave, putting them at high risk for lead contamination.
Those residents could be living in a danger zone contaminated with lead.
Some people who live near the area, known as the “Superfund site,” have been slow to get tested.
Unknowingly living with lead poisoning can cause a host of health issues that health department spokesperson Paul Krevins says can cause learning problems.
“In kids it can look like autism,” Krevins said. “It could look like ADHD, (and) at low levels it can mean IQ loss.”
The health department is hoping to spread awareness about the importance of testing at events like one hosted today where parents were offered free lead testing.
Tatanisha Reid brought her one-year-old son Julian to be tested for lead.
A quick finger prick revealed her son’s blood had enough lead in it to require medical attention.
“It did worry me a little bit, but they drew his blood and hopefully we can take precautions when they give us the results,” Reid said.
The blood test will be reconfirmed at a lab, with the results expected in a few days.