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SJC Board of Health pursuing solutions to lead problem

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

After studying lead levels throughout St. Joseph County for months, the Board of Health is prepared to propose prevention solutions.

“Prevention is in our hands. We can do this,” said SJC Board of Health member, Heidi Beidinger.

The St. Joseph County Board of Health has been studying the community’s lead exposure for the past six months.

First, they poured it on a particular problem area, census track 6, which is home to the Near Northwest Neighborhood.

This group took it upon themselves to test the tap.

25 neighbors in the Near Northwest Neighborhood agreed to test their water for lead levels.

So far, 15 of them have come back with results well below the EPA standard, which is what they want.

“They have an action level at 15 parts per billion, and the highest we’ve gotten is 6 and the lowest is negligible,” said Kathy Schuth, Executive Director for the Near Northwest Neighborhood.

Board member Heidi Beidinger will soon be leading the charge to test the soil and paint in 30 Near Northwest Neighbors’ homes, in the hopes of convincing commissioners, they need help.

“Children who are testing between that 5 to 9 range that we’re supposed to be managing are not being managed. We need people, nurses, case workers, to be able to manage those results, manage those children,” said Beidinger.

The CDC recommends monitoring kids with blood lead levels between 5 to 9 ug/dL. Indiana only mandates it after 10 ug/dL.

If politics prevents progress with resources, Heidi hopes providers will step up to protect their patients.

“It’s one thing to say to providers oh this zip code has a lot of lead in it, it’s a whole ‘nother thing to say that did you know down the street, here’s the data, and here’s what’s going on in your neighborhood, it brings it home,” said Beidinger.

She says at the end of the day, “It’s not any one person’s problem, it’s a community-wide problem, and we all need to be working to solve this.”

The Board of Health says three easy ways you can reduce your lead exposure by nearly 90% are by taking off your shoes before walking into your house, wet cleaning your floors, and mulching around your sewer line.

You can pick up free mulch in South Bend at the following address:

4340 Trade Drive

South Bend, IN 46628

The Near Northwest Neighborhood is hosting the DIY Homeowner’s Workshop: Lead Paint Repair & Renovation on May 23 from 6pm to 8pm at their office, located at 1007 Portage Avenue.

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