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Lead Poisoning Leading to Illness In Indiana

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Santa Clara, CA: Environmental lead poisoning is responsible for health issues reported in the children of a woman living in Indiana, one of 1000 such families. Those families, including 670 children, were advised in a letter issued July 25 by East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland, that they needed to relocate because of the elevated levels of lead found in the soil. The lead is present in Shantell Allen’s back yard. The housing complex the Allen family lives in, the West Calumet affordable housing complex, is within the US Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc. Superfund site, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It was built on top of the Anaconda White Lead company, according to EPA records. Further, the housing complex also lies south of the former USS Lead industrial site and next to a DuPont site. These companies smelted, dealt with or processed lead for decades.

In July 2016, the EPA informed Allen that some parts of her yard showed readings for lead poisoning of up to 66 times the lead limit and 55 times higher than the arsenic limit set by the agency.

In 2009, the site was added to the National Priorities list, which one EPA project manager described in a 2012 transcript of a public meeting as the "EPA's nationwide list of the most contaminated sites in the country." The list is made up of more than 1,300 properties, CNN.com reported.

According to EPA documentation, the most contaminated yards showed lead levels 227 times above the lead limit and 135 times above the arsenic limit set by the EPA.

As a result of not being informed of the lead toxicity in her home, Allen’s children, who have played in the yard for years, are demonstrating signs of lead-related illnesses. Her two-year old daughter has blood lead levels of 6.6 times the upper level of concern established by the Centers for Disease Control, and she was informed in July 2016, by letter from the Indiana State Department of Health, that her two-year-old daughter had a lead result of "33 capillary." Compare that with the CDC's upper level of concern, which is five. Her daughter was tested for lead poisoning in February 2015, when she was one.

Additionally, Allen's nine-year-old son was recently diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder. Allen’s other children, who range in age from four to eight, have also displayed symptoms that she says she couldn't explain before, including fevers, chills and vomiting, which has resulted in their going to emergency a number of times.

In a report by CNN, from documents they obtained, it appears that the EPA was aware of the scope of the problem from soil sampling data in December 2014. Those data reportedly showed that lead contamination within the West Calumet Housing Complex is extremely more pervasive, severe, and extensive than identified by the EPA's prior inadequate sampling, however the agency failed to share such data with the city until May 24, 2016.

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