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State Health Officials Assist With East Chicago Lead Testing
Updated August 31, 2016 11:18 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is partnering with the East Chicago Health Department to offer free blood lead testing clinics for city residents, particularly those living in the West Calumet Housing Complex.

State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., said clinics will be held Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting this Friday, Sept. 2, and will continue indefinitely. The clinics will be held in the teacher's lounge at the former Carrie Gosch Elementary School, located at 455 E. 148th St., East Chicago, IN, 46312.

"These free clinics are another example of the ongoing efforts by our state agencies in support of the residents of East Chicago," said Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb. "Together with on-the-ground personnel and funding to relocate vulnerable families already provided by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the assistance Dr. Adams and his team are providing will help East Chicago residents while the appropriate federal agencies work to solve this crisis."

ISDH has been assisting the East Chicago Health Department with blood lead testing since early August in response to concerns that soil in the complex contains high levels of lead. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the site on the federal Superfund list in 2009 and is leading cleanup and remediation efforts.

"I have personally visited East Chicago and the West Calumet housing complex, and I know from speaking with community members that many are concerned about whether they or their children have been affected by lead in the soil. We urge residents -- especially parents -- to take advantage of these clinics and get tested," Dr. Adams said. "Having the results of blood lead tests allows health officials and parents to work together to prevent additional exposure to lead, giving children the best chance for a healthy life."

Blood lead levels are considered elevated if they exceed 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says public health actions should be initiated. Lead-based paint found in homes built before 1978 and lead-contaminated dust are the most common sources of lead poisoning for U.S. children.

According to the CDC, lead can cause changes to the IQ, decreased ability to pay attention and underperformance at school. At extremely high levels, lead exposure can lead to a coma and death.

Children under the age of 6 are at primary risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other potentially contaminated objects into their mouths. Infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should also take steps to prevent lead exposure.

While testing of young children and pregnant women is a priority, anyone wishing to be tested at the clinics is welcome. Participants will be asked to fill out a consent form on site.

Lead testing is typically done in two phases. The first is a screening test, in which a small needle or lancet is used to prick a finger and collect several drops of blood for analysis. If those tests come back above 5 mcg/dl, a confirmatory test is done in which a small amount of blood is drawn from a vein. Results of confirmatory tests are used to determine appropriate public health actions.

Blood samples collected at the clinics will be analyzed at no cost by the ISDH laboratories, and results will be sent to the East Chicago Health Department to convey to clinic participants. The East Chicago Health Department will be in charge of follow-up and case management for individuals who require it.

To find out more information about the effects of lead, visit the Indiana State Department of Health's lead program at www.in.gov/isdh/26550.htm or the CDC's lead page at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/.
For important health and safety information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.



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