According to Reuters.com, the EPA found high concentrations of lead in the soil of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana
The led emissions were from a closed U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc., also known as USS Lead. Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detected high lead concentrations in the soil that could pose a serious health risk to families at the housing complex if left as is.
Due to the lead contamination, the West Calumet Housing Complex, aged at 44-years-old, has been marked for demolition and all 1,100 residents are being forced into new homes.
The EPA tried to combat the issues outside of designating the housing complex for demolition. The agency has commandeered a newly built local elementary school and has officials stationed there to offer free blood tests to check the levels of lead poisoning of residents.
Residents of the housing complex are outraged and want to know why the lead contamination in the soil wasn’t identified and removed earlier.
One of the reasons West Calumet residents didn’t learn of the lead toxicity was due to the conclusions of a 19-page report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and conducted by a branch of the CDC—the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
The ATSDR conducts similar public health assessments to identify potential risks before the EPA and such officials take any further steps to deal with a contamination.
According to a Reuters examination, the conclusion of the report was built on flawed data. The report’s conclusion that residents were at no health risk was wrong as many of the key findings of the report were found to be misleading or baseless.
When the EPA sampled the soil in the housing complex, 50% of the homes tested had lead in their topsoil that exceeded 1,200 parts per million. This amount is three times the federal “hazard” level for area that are considered residential.
This “hazard” level permits a “time-critical” action for residents of the area to be removed within six months, according to EPA standards.
According to Indiana’s State Department of Health, since EPA involvement, 10 children under 7-years-old that were residents of the West Calumet houses or other nearby areas had confirmed elevated lead levels.
More monitoring is planned for East Chicago according to experts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to lead can harm a child’s health in the following ways: