A lead crisis is unfolding in East Chicago, Indiana, and residents worry that the Environmental Protection Agency will not respond to their calls for help.
“For decades, industrial plants polluted the air and soil with lead and arsenic in East Chicago neighborhoods that included a public housing complex and an elementary school,” says Baptiste.
In 2014, a lead plant there was declared a Superfund site by the EPA but children living near the site still had elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to an investigation by Reuters. Not only that, the EPA subsequently found that the entire city had elevated levels of lead in their drinking water—much in the same way Flint did during its own 2014 lead-contaminated water crisis.
“The EPA estimated that up to 90 percent of East Chicago homes received water through lead service lines,” Baptiste reports.
This month, East Chicago residents sent a petition to the EPA “asking for water filters, expanded blood level testing for children, and assurance that those affected had access to Medicaid,” says Baptiste, “But the EPA that the community petitioned has radically changed.”
The EPA budget under its new chief, climate-change denier Scott Pruitt, is cutting funds for lead pollution cleanup efforts and environmental justice programs.