Immunization Clinic

Lead Testing at the Health Department
Monday - Friday
9am - 11:30am
1pm - 3pm
(Results will return between 1 - 2 weeks)

Lead Hotline:

East Chicago Report to Governor Holcomb USS Lead Superfund Response to Emergency Declaration 3.3.2017

Stacks Image 30858
An Open Letter from Mayor Anthony Copeland

Over the past several months, our community has weathered environmental issues that have seriously impacted our residents, their children and all of us who call East Chicago home. In every instance, we have worked in partnerships to address serious environmental issues. When we realized the extent of lead contamination in the soil in the West Calumet Housing Complex we demanded that residents be moved out of harms way to prevent their exposure to high levels of lead during the EPA remediation. When the School CIty realized the extent of the contamination near Carrie Gosch School , it was ordered closed. When the remediation began to impact other residents and homeowners, we began working with residents and community groups to rebuild trust not only in City government, but also in state and federal government in order to best address residents needs and concerns. This has not been easy, but I acknowledge that this is what is required of those of us who serve in public office.

We continue to follow our community’s motto. East Chicago is indeed a “City of Hope and Progress”. Why? Because we will never stop working for the people of our community despite issues that have the potential to wreak havoc on our community. I wanted to provide you with a brief update on what we are doing and have done to address the environmental issues that confront our community.

First, we did not shift blame. Although the areas impacted by lead and arsenic contamination in the soil were the sites of industrial plants which closed over forty (40) years ago; and that the decision to build housing on these sites was made forty (40) years before I took office, we remained steadfast in our commitment to protect and support our residents. When we learned that the Environmental Protection Agency was doing considerable testing of homes and water systems in the area, we offered to collaborate with the agency to address the issue in order to arrive at a remediation plan which best served our residents and our City. We devoted staff and resources to this problem, and arrived at the difficult conclusion that relocation, followed by demolition was the best way to protect people from the unprecedented levels of contamination in the West Calumet Housing Complex.

Second, we dedicated staff and programs to assist those residents in the impacted area. We provided free blood lead testing for residents via the East Chicago Health Department; we worked in concert with the Indiana State Department of Health; we transported senior citizens from their homes to testing sites; we pushed the federal government to expedite vouchers to residents of the area so that they could quickly relocate to safer affordable housing; we increased police patrols to protect the residents. Our goal was simple---to make sure that we used all available resources of the City of East Chicago to support our residents in their hours of need and during this crisis.

Third, we called it what it is---a disaster We sought state support for declaring the area a disaster, but unfortunately that request was rejected by Governor Pence. We have asked for the same declaration from newly-elected Governor Holcomb. We also have supported efforts of our General Assembly to secure additional funds to make sure that the City of East Chicago’s taxpayers do not have to bear the burden of this disaster alone.

Fourth, I will say it here because I say it countless times a day---the quality of water provided by the East Chicago Water Filtration Plant is excellent and safe. Unfortunately, because federal regulations allowed the use of lead in residential plumbing until 1986, homes built before lead was banned may have water supply lines made of lead. . We have requested funding via the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to make $18 million of improvements in our water system. These are designed to continue to improve the quality of the water that reaches our residents.
In this particular case, we are working with our financial advisors to determine the best approach to use these additional ratepayer dollars to begin replacing lead lines to each home that is impacted by high levels of lead in the water. We anticipate receiving state approval within the next few months so that we can do what has never been done before---replace the lead service lines to help assure our residents that their water supply to their homes is of the highest quality.

Fifth, we intend to hold the federal government accountable as a partner in our efforts. The EPA started this process of testing, even using brand new technologies that had not been used elsewhere until East Chicago. That is fine and we understand their obligation to protect residents from exposures to environmental hazards. That is their job. My job as Mayor is to ensure that we cooperate, collaborate and build consensus on the best approaches forward. That’s why we will be meeting with the regional office of the EPA to build a partnership with their new leadership.

Sixth, we have been transparent and accessible throughout the process. We have responded to numerous requests for information from newspapers, radio and television stations. We have been available to the media. We have talked about our issues on radio and have used our community’s government cable station to make sure that residents are aware of the issues and our efforts to address them. We have held community meetings on a regular basis. We have assigned staff to meet with groups and individuals to better understand their concerns and to work on solving their issues. And we will continue. Making sure that we respond and actually do something has always been how I approach my job as Mayor.

Finally, I will admit that this has been a tough journey. We have dedicated our scarce resources to addressing a modern disaster right here in East Chicago. Yes, it will be an arduous journey that will test our strength as a community. The media always refer to my community as “gritty”. I disagree and find that offensive. They should stop. The people that I am fortunate to represent are hard-working, determined and simply want what many of us want---the ability to raise our children in a safe environment. I assure you that remains my priority each day.

Thank you.

Anthony Copeland
City of East Chicago

Fact Sheet on Soil Contamination in East Chicago
August 2016

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has documented that the soil in the West Calumet Housing Complex (WCHC) in East Chicago, Indiana contains elevated levels of lead and arsenic.
This fact sheet will address some of your questions and will also provide you with recommendations for reducing exposure to lead and arsenic from the soil in the WCHC.

Where did the lead and arsenic come from?
The elevated levels of lead and arsenic in the soil are left over from contamination that occurred years ago by the operations of several lead smelting facilities that were located in this area until the 1960s.

How does the lead and arsenic in soil get into our bodies?
Contaminated soil can enter the body if it is swallowed or breathed in. Soil generates small dust particles that can settle on clothing, on toys, and in the home. It can enter the home on the soles of shoes and other items such as bike tires. Children may swallow the dust when they put their hands and toys in their mouths. Young children (under the age of 6) are at the greatest risk of exposure to the lead and arsenic dust because they play in soil and put soil-covered toys and hands in their mouths. In fact, children get about twice as much soil in their bodies from their activities as do adults.

Has the lead and arsenic in the soil from the East Chicago site gotten into our bodies?
Most of us have some lead and arsenic in our bodies from exposures in everyday life. It is not possible to determine whether the lead and arsenic in your body is from your exposure to the contaminated soil or another source. The East Chicago Health Department and others have been conducting blood testing for lead and have found that more children have elevated blood lead levels than would normally be expected. This may be from the soil.

Testing for arsenic in the body is not reliable and is reserved for cases of high-dose poisoning rather than exposure from the environment. It is usually conducted by poison specialists.

How can the lead and arsenic from the soil affect our health?
Over time, lead can damage children’s nervous systems which may result in small changes to IQ and behavior. Since the brain develops before birth but continues for the first several years of life, pregnant women and children six years of age and under are at higher risk than older children and adults.

Children and adults exposed to high levels of arsenic may have irritation of the stomach and intestines, blood vessel damage, skin changes, and reduced nerve function. Long-term exposure in children may lead to learning disabilities and other neurological effects. High levels of arsenic can also increase the risk of developing cancer.

Should my child get a blood lead test?
Children and pregnant women who live in WCHC should have their blood tested for lead. You or your child’s health care provider or the East Chicago Health Department (ECHD) located at 100 West Chicago Avenue, can perform the test. For more information, contact ECHD at (219) 391-8467. All children less than 6 yo who receive Medicaid are required to be tested for lead yearly.

Should I be worried if my child’s lead level is elevated?
This is a difficult question to answer. We know that even low levels of lead can cause small changes in a child’s growing brain. However, we are unable to predict which children will have problems in the future due to their lead exposure. Some lead exposed children seem to do fine.

About 2.5% of children in the United States have a blood lead level equal to or above 5 μg/dL, which is considered elevated. Most children test lower than 5 ug/dL, however very few are close to zero. Elevated blood lead is most typically the result of contact with lead-based paint in the home. Here are some comparison levels to help you understand you or your child’s blood lead results:

• The average lead level in children in the US is around 1 ug/dL.
• The average lead level of children in Lake County, Indiana is around 2 ug/dL.
• The average lead level in 1980 in the US was around 15 ug/dL. Lead levels have declined significantly since then because lead was removed from gasoline and paint.

What can I do if my child’s lead level is elevated?
Medicine to remove lead from the body has its own risks and therefore is not prescribed until blood lead levels are greater than 45 ug/dl. Low levels of lead will be removed from the body over time (through the urine and stool).

There are activities you can do with your child that will stimulate his or her brain as it is developing and may counteract the possible damage caused by lead. These activities include:
• Talking with your child and asking him or her questions. Listen and respond to their answers.
• Reading to your child and promoting reading in your home.
• Making sure your child goes to preschool.
• Being engaged in your child’s school activities. Discuss assignments, field trips, etc.

Regardless of your child’s lead level, you should speak with your child’s health care provider to have your child further evaluated if he or she does not seem to be developing normally.

What can I do to prevent the lead and arsenic in the soil from getting into my child’s body?
• Do not allow your child to play in or around the contaminated soil.
• Wash your child’s hands and feet with soap and water after they have been playing outside.
• Wash your child’s toys regularly with soap and water.
• Remove shoes upon entering your home.
• Eating foods with a lot of calcium, iron and vitamin C will help keep lead from being stored in your child’s body. These foods include dairy products, beans and meats, and orange juice.

Additional resources about lead exposure:
• Indiana State Department of Health
o Lead and Healthy Homes website: 317-233-1250
• United States Environmental Protection Agency Lead website:
• U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Lead Poisoning Prevention web site:
• Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago:
o 866-967-7337

This material was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and funded (in part) by the cooperative agreement FAIN: 1U61TS000237-02 from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Acknowledgement: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports the PEHSU by providing partial funding to ATSDR under Inter-Agency Agreement number DW-5-95877701. Neither EPA nor ATSDR endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in PEHSU publications


Several FNS programs can help families avoid water with high lead levels by increasing access to bottled water and/or water filters:
SNAP –Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participants can use their benefits to purchase bottled water at any authorized store.

School Meals – Schools participating in the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program can use their non-profit food service account funds to make bottled water available to students free of charge during lunch and breakfast. The total per meal reimbursement rate remains the same. Water filters may be an allowable cost for schools. Program operators must consult with and obtain approval from the State agency prior to initiating any expenditure for equipment to filter water.

CACFP & Summer Meals – Summer sites, child care providers, and adult care institutions can claim bottled water as a reimbursable cost. The total per meal reimbursement rate remains the same. Water filters may be an allowable cost for the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program

(CACFP) and summer meals programs. Program operators must consult with and obtain approval from the State agency prior to initiating any expenditure for equipment to filter water.

WIC – The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food package allows infant formula to be purchased in concentrated liquid, powdered, or ready-to-feed form. In an area that has been affected by a water contamination crisis, mothers who are not fully breastfeeding are encouraged to purchase ready-to-feed formula, which does not need to be mixed with water. For more information on the specific provisions of these programs, please contact your State agency.

Consuming a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of nutritious foods is always advised, but ensuring proper nutrition is even more critical when dealing with lead exposure. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines or DGAs) provide important guidance to help Americans make healthy food and beverage choices. Choose MyPlate presents this guidance in easy-to-understand language that can help people to adopt healthy habits.
In addition to an all-around healthy diet, consuming vitamin C, iron, and calcium is especially important for those in an area impacted by lead exposure. These three key nutrients have been shown to help limit the absorption of lead by the body. These nutrients can be obtained by eating certain foods, such as:
• _Vitamin C – fruits, especially citrus; vegetables including red and green peppers
• _Iron – beans, peanut butter, lean meat and poultry, whole grains
• _Calcium – low-fat / fat-free milk (or calcium-fortified non-dairy milk such as soy milk), yogurt, or cheese; leafy green vegetables

A variety of FNS programs can be leveraged to help families in need meet the Dietary Guidelines and obtain foods that are rich in the three key nutrients. Many of these programs also educate participants in affected areas on how to select, prepare, and consume the foods they need to maintain a healthy diet inclusive of the key nutrients. For more information about these programs and others, visit the FNS website. To achieve the maximum benefit of these nutrition assistance programs, anyone living, working, and/or attending school in an area affected by lead exposure who is eligible for one or more of these programs is encouraged to apply.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP provides eligible low-income individuals and families with a monthly allotment to use on food purchases at authorized stores and farmers markets. Eligible individuals and families in areas affected by lead exposure should be encouraged to use this allotment to purchase nutritious foods, including those high in the key nutrients described above. Some locations have “Double Up Food Bucks” or similar programs, which double the value of SNAP benefits at farmers markets, allowing participants to purchase more healthy foods containing the key nutrients.
Through SNAP’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program (SNAP-Ed), States receive grant funding to provide nutrition education to participants that can help them make healthy choices on a tight budget. In areas affected by lead exposure, States can use this program to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition and teach participants how to incorporate foods high in the key nutrients into their diets. For example, in Flint, Michigan, one of the agencies that implements SNAP-Ed created a
two-page fact sheet and distributed it throughout the area in a variety of languages. It also developed a recipe booklet featuring foods that are good sources of the key nutrients and held workshops for families.
States can also use SNAP-Ed funding on interventions that increase access to foods rich in nutrients key to combatting lead exposure through policy, systems, and/or environmental change.
In addition, SNAP-Ed Connection, an online resource center for State and local SNAP-Ed personnel, features a variety of helpful government resources on lead exposure and nutrition for educators and citizens alike. There are features articles on lowering a child’s lead levels, preventing lead poisoning among pregnant women, cost-effective recipes featuring the key nutrients, and more.
Child Nutrition Programs
FNS’s child nutrition programs – including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Meals Programs, among others – help ensure kids and teens have access to nutritious meals all year long. Because of children’s increased susceptibility to the effects of lead, these programs are a vital part of addressing lead exposure. When responding to a lead exposure crisis, there are many ways to leverage child nutrition programs:
• _Serving nutritious meals featuring the key nutrients: The current school nutrition standards require that school breakfasts and lunches meet the Dietary Guidelines and contain foods from a variety of food groups. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) also recently updated its nutrition standards to more closely align with the Dietary Guidelines. Therefore, children should be encouraged to take advantage of the meals and snacks they receive through these programs to help promote a nutritious diet. Furthermore, schools may consider introducing practices that boost participation to increase students’ intake of these nutritious foods. For breakfast, consider breakfast in the classroom or grab n’ go options. At lunch, try the Smarter Lunchroom Strategies or get kids involved in taste testing new recipes.

Taking it a step further, school nutrition professionals and child care providers can plan menus that specifically emphasize or increase offerings of food groups that are particularly high in the key nutrients such as whole grains; dark green, red/orange vegetables; and citrus fruits. In addition, schools participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, a program for elementary schools with the highest free and reduced price enrollment, can leverage the program to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables high in key nutrients.
• _Ensuring access: All eligible schools and districts in affected areas are encouraged to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP is a cost-sharing partnership between the Federal government and eligible schools or districts in lower-income areas that allows schools to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students. This eliminates stigma for students receiving free or reduced-price meals, reduces administrative burden for schools and parents, and

ensures children get the meals they need. In regions affected by lead exposure, the widespread access to nutritious meals and key nutrients in low income areas afforded through CEP is critical.

Parents and guardians of children attending schools that do not participate in CEP may be able to lessen the cost for their family by applying for free or reduced priced meals. They can contact their district for more information on how to apply.
• _Extending meal service beyond the school day: Areas affected by lead exposure can maximize opportunities for children and teens to consume healthy meals containing the key nutrients by expanding meal service beyond the school day. First, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) may cover snacks and/or suppers for children participating in afterschool care programs.

Second, USDA’s summer meals programs help fill the need for healthy, nutrient-rich meals when school lets out for summer. Through the summer meals programs, USDA reimburses summer meals sites that provide meals at no cost to children in low income areas. However, we rely on communities to host and sponsor the sites. Potential sites and/or sponsors should visit our website and contact their State agency for more information. Summer meals programs also rely on champions to help get the word out about the availability of summer meals; communities affected by lead exposure are encouraged to leverage their partnerships to help raise awareness of local summer sites.
• _Educating children and families: Child nutrition programs can help ensure kids and teens have access to nutritious meals; however, just as important is educating and empowering them to make healthy choices all day long. Teachers, care providers, school nutrition professionals, and summer sites can all help provide nutrition education.

FNS’s Team Nutrition supports the child nutrition programs in promoting healthy eating and an active lifestyle. They offer a host of free, publicly available materials on their website. School nutrition professionals, day care providers, summer site sponsors and others can use these materials to help teach children the importance of good nutrition, which may help address issues associated with lead exposure.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC provides a monthly food package to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum mothers, infants, and children up to age 5 who are considered nutritionally at-risk. Because this population is particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead in the body, good nutrition is even more important. Many foods that are sources of the key nutrients are available through the WIC food package.
In addition, personalized nutrition education is a key part of WIC’s services. Participants receive coaching strategies to optimize nutrition for themselves and their families through one-on-one sessions
in person or on the phone, online seminars, and/or group education sessions. This is an excellent opportunity to provide information and strategies to participants on how to use nutrition as a tool to mitigate the effects of lead in the body.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
TEFAP helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including the elderly, by providing emergency food assistance at no cost to participants. TEFAP purchases a variety of nutritious USDA Foods and makes them available to State Distributing Agencies, who then distribute to food banks or other local organizations that provide food to low-income families. Foods containing the key nutrients may be available through TEFAP; nutrition information for all USDA foods is available online.
The Food Distribution Program for Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
FDPIR provides USDA Foods to eligible households living on Indian reservations. Many foods that are sources of the key nutrients are available through the FDPIR food package; nutrition information for all USDA foods is available online.
LINKS (in order of appearance)
2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans -
Choose MyPlate -
FNS Website -
Double Up Food Bucks -
Flint Michigan Agency -
SNAP-Ed Connection -
Child Nutrition Programs -
Smarter Lunchroom Strategies -
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program -
Community Eligibility -
Summer Meals Programs -
Summer Food Service Program Fact Sheet -
WIC Nutrition Education –
Nutritional Information for USDA Foods -

Stacks Image 14632
Gerri C. Browning, MD
Health Commissioner

100 W. Chicago Ave.
East Chicago, IN 46312
PH: 391-8467
Fax: 391-8494

Office Hours: Monday - Friday (Administration)
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

*NOTE: Other divisions have different hours


LINKS (in order of appearance)
School Breakfast Program -
National School Lunch Program -
Summer Meals Programs -