Living Downstream

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:

Environmental News

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    November 14, 2019

    California Burning Podcast: The Science of Fire Behavior

    The Camp Fire was the most destructive fire in California’s history. 19,000 homes were destroyed and at least 85 people were killed. But with so many fuel-laden forests, the question becomes not why this happened, but why we haven’t seen more disasters of this scale? Matt Fidler, the creator of the…
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    November 05, 2019

    'Halloween Do-Over' Brings Joy to Healdsburg After Fire

    by Matt Villano When it became clear that Healdsburg was downgrading its evacuation status on Halloween, two local women figured most people would miss out on the typical trick-or-treat experience. The women, Elena Halvorsen and Mandy Carpenter, both have kids in the local public school, and both…
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    October 23, 2019

    Survivors of Camp Fire and Tubbs Fire Look Back and Ahead

    Over the past two weeks, art lovers have been visiting studios throughout Sonoma County. Art Trails, which organizes the visits, was about to start two years ago, when the Tubbs Fire raced through Santa Rosa. Artist Bill Gittins was ready to display several hundred of his paintings and prints but…
  • October 14, 2019

    Fire Survivors React to Power Shut-off

    Millions of Californians had their power shut off last week by Pacific Gas and Electric Company as a way to help prevent wildfires from starting during dangerous conditions. As part of a five-part series dedicated to the anniversaries of the Tubbs and Camp Fires, we look into how these two…
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    October 03, 2019

    Smokey the Bear Has Affected Forest Management for Decades

    Fire season in California has been getting longer and more intense. One major reason for the severity is fire suppression. Putting out fires is a message officials have touted for more than a century. But as Matt Fidler, the creator of the new radio series “California Burning” tell us, the message…
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    Sep 06, 2019

    Study Shows Climate Change Could Threaten Oyster Habitat

    Research from the University of California at Davis published last month shows that climate change could dramatically shrink oyster habitat. KRCB’s…
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    Aug 29, 2019

    Controlled Burns Could Help Prevent California's Megafires

    Over the past two years, California has been devastated by the worst wildfires in its history. As those fires continue to grow in frequency and…
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    Jul 29, 2019

    Gray Whale Mystery

    Are Gray Whales the Canary in the Climate Coal Mine? WATCH VIDEO. NorCal Public Media explores the mystery of Gray Whales washing up on California…
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    Jun 27, 2019

    Experts Showcase Fire Resistant Building Materials

    As we head into summer, homeowners are looking for ways to protect their properties from wildfire. KRCB's Adia White attended an event at the Santa…
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    Jun 12, 2019

    Why Food Reformers Have Mixed Feelings About Eco-Labels

    Dan Charles June 12, 2019 Hear this Morning Edition Story Take a walk through the grocery story; the packages are talking to you, proclaiming their…
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    Jun 08, 2019

    Living Downstream: The Klamath Water Wars

    This is the story of a 15-year conflict over what would be the biggest dam removal ever, a modern cowboys and Indians tale that shows how victories…
  • Jun 07, 2019

    Against All Odds, Paradise Students Graduate on Home Campus

    Around two hundred graduates walked across the Paradise High football field on Thursday night. They were all smiles and laughter, proving that the…
  • San Bernadino
    Jun 04, 2019

    Grist Finds Link Between Pollution and Infant Death in San Bernardino

    The online shopping economy appears to be having a deadly impact on children’s health in San Bernardino County. A new investigation by Grist Magazine…
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    May 30, 2019

    Citizen Input Sought for Santa Rosa's Future

    In 2009, Santa Rosa created a state-mandated plan that looked ahead to the year 2035. The plan made certain assumptions, and was created to optimize…
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    May 29, 2019

    Sonoma County Inspects Rural Properties for Fire Safety

    Sonoma County is inspecting homes and properties to make sure that owners have cleared weeds and cut overgrown grass on their lots. This is the first…
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    May 24, 2019

    KRCB TV Highlights the Wine Industry’s Unsung Heroes

    From the history of the region to the people behind the scenes, there are many untold stories about winemaking in the North Bay. In the Independent…
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    May 23, 2019

    Local Activists Bring Green New Deal Principles to Sonoma

    Environmental activists and concerned community members rallied at a town hall last week to discuss options for confronting climate change. The event…

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