living lead calumet lives matter ropeik smallIn this podcast, “Living with Lead: Public Housing on a Superfund Site,” you heard about environmental injustice in East Chicago, Ind. as people living in the West Calumet housing complex were forced to move out with little notice due to lead contamination in the soil. 

What is environmental injustice? In this podcast, environmental injustice is described as affecting the lives of people who bear the greatest risks and harms from pollution; these same community members benefit the least from the economy in terms of profits, better-paying jobs and political clout. 

In contrast, environmental justice in East Chicago would mean people finding themselves equally benefited and burdened by pollution, no matter what their racial or economic status. 

Curious if there’s a Superfund site where you live? The EPA provides a list of Superfund sites by state. This resource includes a background of the Superfund site, site contacts and the site location. 

[Photo: Calumet Lives Matter president Sherry Hunter, left, sports her group's signature shirt at the independent Community Strategy Group's Calumet Day table with Rev. Cheryl Rivera. Photo credit: Annie Ropeik for Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations.]

Lead and arsenic contamination in the soil of public housing complexes put residents at risk. In West Calumet, where the lead and arsenic contamination was over 100 times the legal limit in the soil. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on the health problems caused by lead. In addition, the World Health Organization describes the sources of exposure, health effects, prevention and control of arsenic contamination

In 2015, the crisis in Flint, Mich. of lead contamination in the water resulted in global outcry. America has a lead problem beyond Flint, Mich. and East Chicago, Ind. Reuters describes other areas in the U.S. afflicted with lead poisoning in drinking water, paint, plumbing or industrial waste. 

In August, 2019, dangerous concentrations of lead were found in the water in some neighborhoods of Newark, N.J.

Indiana Public Media addresses the fact that more than 30 states haven’t updated child blood lead standards to match the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new standard. This new threshold is meant to be more proactive in recognizing lead hazards in order to avoid childhood blood poisoning. 

In this podcast, reporters Annie Ropeik and Nick Janzen interview several students who were learning how to test their soil for lead contamination.They also created a broadcast story about these students for Northeast Indiana Public Radio. 

The original set of stories on East Chicago’s lead contamination, for which Ropeik and Janzen won several awards, were reported for the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. The project, called Blood, Lead & Soil, includes the original letter sent to residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex, full interviews with residents of the East Chicago superfund site and other resources describing lead contamination and efforts to cleanup the superfund site.  

A quick guide to the resources linked on this page:

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