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Documents: Lead paint found in Indiana emergency housing

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — Lead paint was discovered outside nearly half of the units intended for families leaving an Indiana public-housing complex because of lead contamination, documents show.

The Times of Northwest Indiana (http://bit.ly/2oEZmNy ) obtained the documents and reported that they show that lead paint was found near 13 units intended as emergency housing for families leaving East Chicago’s West Calumet Housing Complex. In most cases, the lead paint was on the outside of the homes in door frames or jambs, window casings, housing lintels, porch areas, or stair posts or railings, the documents show.

The 45-year-old West Calumet Housing Complex was built on a site previously occupied by a lead-products factory. Officials last summer began clearing out the complex after detailed soil testing found some yards with lead levels more than 70 times the federal safety standard. Tests on the emergency housing were required under a civil rights agreement reached in November. According to the East Chicago Housing Authority’s website, 17 West Calumet families had moved into the emergency units as of April 21.

East Chicago Housing Authority attorney Nick Snow said the paint hazards were remediated. Snow said clearance reports that indicated hazards were reduced or removed were also conducted. Snow said the housing agency believes it is in full compliance with federal regulations, citing a law that allows it to use interim controls in combination with ongoing maintenance and periodic reevaluation.

The Chicago-based Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law alleged the lead inspections “expose widespread noncompliance” with federal laws. The center, which had pushed for the testing, has called for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate.

Emily Benfer, director of the Loyola University Justice Project, said it is important residents have a safe environment.

“East Chicago residents have been exposed to neurotoxins and carcinogens for decades. Their health depends upon an environment that will not expose them to additional lead hazards,” Benfer said.

Though lead-based paint was banned in 1978, it remains one of the most common causes of childhood lead poisoning according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com

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