Residents of East Chicago, Indiana, have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take emergency action due to the high levels of lead and arsenic in the city’s drinking water. The residents have requested the EPA to take emergency steps to remove the contaminants because city and state efforts have been insufficient to secure an immediate, safe drinking water source.
Exposure to elevated levels of lead can cause increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension and decreased kidney function in adults; reduced growth of the fetus and premature birth in pregnant women; and behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, and slowed growth in children.
According to the petition, more than 40 percent of homes tested at East Chicago’s USS Lead Superfund Site had elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. The EPA had issued a report in January 2017 stating that 30 homes in that area had lead levels in their tap water exceeding the “action level” of 15 parts per billion. According to the EPA, there is no safe level of lead exposure, even at levels below 15 parts per billion.
The city’s lead problem is exacerbated because its contamination is systemic, caused by lead service lines and insufficient corrosion control treatment by the water system. While the City has publicly stated that it does not have sufficient resources to conduct continued water testing, the EPA has informed residents that they should simply assume the presence of lead service lines in their homes and should use certified water filters to reduce exposure.
If you would like more information about these cases, you can contact Grant Cofer, a lawyer in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section. Grant can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at Grant.Cofer@beasleyallen.com.
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