The topsoil in some of the lawns at the West Calumet Housing Complex contains levels of lead 30 times higher than what the EPA considers safe; deeper down, it's much worse. Of the 474 residents screened since July, 29 were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood; 19 of them were children under the age of 8, the New York Times reports.
The EPA has been monitoring the lead levels for several years, but efforts to clean up the contamination have obviously not been successful. While that is sorted out, Mayor Anthony Copeland announced last month that residents—a majority of whom are black and poor—will have to find somewhere new to live so the complex can be demolished.
Many parents of young children are eager to get out, and some in the complex have filed a discrimination complaint saying the East Chicago Housing Authority’s relocation plan violates their civil rights.