Special Report: Flawed CDC Report Left Indiana Children Vulnerable to Lead Poisoning

EAST CHICAGO, Indiana — In this industrial northwest Indiana city, hundreds of families who live in a gated public housing community with prim lawns and a new elementary school next door are searching for new homes. Their own places have been marked for demolition.

The school, temporarily closed, has been taken over by the Environmental Protection Agency and health officials who offer free blood tests to check residents for lead poisoning. Long after the U.S. lead industry left East Chicago, a toxic legacy remains. Smokestacks at one smelter next door, shuttered 31 years ago, for decades polluted these grounds.

Emissions from the now-defunct U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc, or USS Lead, left a potent hazard in the soil. By early this year, the EPA detected concentrations of the heavy metal so high in some yards that they could pose a serious health risk to families at the West Calumet Housing Complex. Children are told not to play outdoors.

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