Notre Dame looks for lead exposure solutions

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— Conversations continue on lead contamination in South Bend.

Tuesday, voices from Notre Dame were the latest to join this discussion.

A panel of university staff hosted the “Getting the Lead Out: Reducing South Bend's exposure to environmental lead” event, educating folks from the community on how to keep their homes safe.

“We have to let people know that lead poisoning is a serious, serious, lifetime problem,” said assistant professional specialist Heidi Beidinger.

A team of faculty and students wanted to understand the sources of environmental lead within South Bend homes.

Houses with lead paint had high lead levels in the surrounding soil.

Fortunately, water tested did not exceed EPA levels but hazards were found on everyday items like old chairs and even some floor boards.

“We cannot sit still any longer we have to react,” said Beidinger.

Experts on Tuesday’s panel say less than 10 percent of kids in St. Joseph County had been tested for lead exposure according to this panel.

They believe it’s time for a change.

“That is the first thing, tomorrow morning, doctors who are seeing children, other nurses, other health care providers who are seeing children, have to start screening children immediately,” said Beidinger.

In the meantime, the city is seeing community groups step up and offer to test and educate.

“I wanted to see if there’s something our local grassroots environment team can do to assist in that effort,” said community member Kelly Beduhn.

While that help is welcomed, the team would like to see a bigger response from the top.

St. Joseph County’s medical officer position became part time recently thanks to funding woes.

For a fix to this problem, these experts are asking the county to do more.

“That’s a shame because our medical officer should be serving as a convener on something like this, so our county commissioners should step up with money,” said Beidinger.

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