Do We Have a “Flint Situation” Here in Indiana?


September 23, 2016 / Personal Injury

A shocking story out of East Chicago, Indiana: The West Calumet Housing Complex, a largely low-income residential property, was built on a former lead smelting company’s site. Over 1,000 residents are now forced to leave because of the perilously high levels of lead in the soil.

For decades children have been playing in the toxic dirt. Then in July, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified residents about the problem. The EPA had discovered that the lead levels in soil samples were generally three times higher than the federal safety standards. In some areas of the complex, the levels were even greater.

The complex was built in 1972. In 2009, the EPA designated 74 acres of the Calumet neighborhood a Superfund cleanup site because of the noxious legacy left behind by U.S.S. Lead, the company that formerly operated there and which went bankrupt in 1992. But no one had notified residents of the danger until after the recent testing. Those who live in the housing complex must relocate, and the complex will be demolished.

Children Are Especially Susceptible to Lead

Do we have a situation comparable to the levels of lead in Flint, Michigan’s water? Some experts say yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have gone on the record to state that lead’s health risks are not contingent on how the exposure happens, whether by water or dirt or lead paint. What matters is how often the person is exposed, and the vulnerability of the individual.

Children, because they are still growing, are most vulnerable to lead poisoning. Even small amounts over the maximum level of exposure can cause developmental delays, sometimes permanent ones, including lowered IQs, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems. Lead is a neurotoxin, which means it destroys nerve tissue.

Problems with lead exposure are not limited to Flint and East Chicago. Quest Diagnostics studied over 5 million blood samples from infants and children under the age of 6. These testing samples were taken from every state, including the District of Columbia, between 2009 and 2015. In their study, released in June, 2016, Quest discovered:

  • In some areas of the U.S., notably some portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, more than one in seven children had high levels of lead in their blood. That’s about 14 percent of all kids tested.
  • As a state, Minnesota had the most children with elevated lead levels in their blood—10.3 percent of those tested.
  • Following Minnesota were the near-to-Indiana states of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Ohio. In all three states, at least 7 percent of tested children demonstrated elevated levels of lead.

Risk Factors for Lead Poisoning

Why are some areas showing a greater rate of high lead levels in children? It turns out that the risk of lead poisoning depends on two factors:

  • In areas with a lot of pre-1950s construction that is being used as residences, the chance of exposure to lead through lead pipes and lead paints is increased.
  • Children in Zip codes containing a greater proportion of those living in poverty are more likely to have elevated lead levels in their blood. In short: Being poor increases the risk of lead poisoning.

Are You Concerned?

If you are concerned about lead exposure, be sure you know the signs of lead poisoning:

  • Appetite loss and weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  • Persistent headaches
  • Irritability
  • Numbness, pain, or tingling in extremities.

If you suspect lead poisoning, seek medical help and have your water and home tested.

When others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Exposure to lead can cause lifelong problems in children, even kill them. If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by lead exposure in Indiana and you would like to explore your options, put Mike Stephenson and his team at Stephenson Rife to work for you. We can study your case and tell you what your rights are. If you or your child has suffered an injury due to lead exposure, you deserve compensation. Talk with us about obtaining a free consultation by calling 1-317-825-5200, or by using our online contact form.

Featured Posts

  • Car AccidentsCan you sue for lower back injuries in a car accident?
    In Vehicle Accidents
    Car accidents can be frightening and horrific experiences, resulting in PTSD and significant physical injuries. One of the most common car accident injuries is lower back trauma. The spine is a delicate and essential collection of nerves and vertebrae. When you are thrust against a steering wheel, seat belt, windshield or other stationary object upon collision, the spine is jarred or bruised, resulting in extreme pain, numbness and […]
  • Brain InjuryTypes of brain injuries caused by medical malpractice
    In Catastrophic Injuries
    It is devastating when you take your loved one to the hospital to be treated or to a nursing home to be cared for only to have them be seriously injured or die due to medical malpractice. The very doctors, nurses and medical personnel charged with healing and protecting your loved one wind up harming them due to negligence or insufficient skills. The types of medical malpractice that can result in brain injuries include: Surgical […]
  • Spinal Injury X-RayWhat is the average settlement for a spinal cord injury?
    In Catastrophic Injuries
    If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Spinal cord injuries can be serious, and even catastrophic, which means significant medical bills, lost wages and other unanticipated expenses. You should not have to bear these costs alone, especially if you were injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. Because every case is different, there is not an […]

Archives