EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking access to nine properties within a Superfund site in northwestern Indiana that have never been tested for lead or arsenic contamination.

The EPA says in court filings that the East Chicago properties may be tainted with lead or arsenic at levels that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. The agency says it hasn’t been able to get permission from property owners to test the soil.

The Post-Tribune reports the nine plots are within the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site, a portion of which once housed a lead smelter. Exposure to even low levels of lead can permanently damage a child’s developing brain, affecting their IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement.

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