A development in East Chicago, Indiana has been confirmed to have toxic lead levels up to 30 times what is considered safe. This is especially devastating for the families who live there, as high lead levels are known to decrease children’s IQs as well as contribute to further developmental issues that may affect them for the rest of their lives. [1]

A 27-year-old named Shantel Allen has been living in the complex for the past 6 years with her 5 children. Last month, an official from the Department of Health told her that her family needed to be tested for lead poisoning, as it was suspected that the soil around the complex was polluted. Her toddler son, at only 2 and a half, tested at 6.6 times the level it should be.

Of 474 residents tested for lead in their blood, 29 of them were found to have levels that were cause for concern. 19 of these people were children under the age of 8. [2]

The residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex are mostly poor and struggling to keep afloat. And now they have a whole new issue: the mayor of East Chicago, Anthony Copeland, has announced that residents are to move out so that the complex can be demolished.

Health authorities failed to inform residents that the top soil, where their children played, was contaminated with lead and arsenic. Underneath the top soil, the contamination levels are even worse. Many are likening this to the recent Flint water crisis in Michigan.

Residents were outraged to find that some of their property tested positive for lead and arsenic contamination as far back as 2014, though they were never notified. To make matters worse, the complex, which houses 674 children, is also close to an elementary school.

Shantel Allen stated,

“I was pregnant while in this complex — exposed to lead, sleeping on a contaminated bed, laying on a contaminated couch — nobody said anything. They kept this very well hidden from all of us.” [1]

The East Chicago Housing Authority has set aside $1.9 million to help resident relocate elsewhere in the city or to any part of the country they choose. So far, however, only $100,000 has been allocated, making it incredibly difficult for residents who are trying to move quickly to get away from the toxic soil.

Because many of the residents are struggling financially, it is impossible for them to move until the money is fully allocated.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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