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A Chicago-Tribune analysis has found that eighty percent of people living in Illinois live in a community where brain-damaging lead was found in at least one home in that community. The analysis is based on a very small sample of “samples collected under federal regulations by the state’s 1,768 water utilities” and is likely not even close to the number of homes affected considering most communities use the same water source from the same water utilities.
“Too many people still get their water from what essentially is a lead straw,” said Miguel del Toral, a retired U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientist who discovered high levels of toxic metal in water at homes in Flint, Michigan, and East Chicago, Indiana.
The problem, which is decades old points to a crumbling and dangerous infrastructure that the utilities, local municipalities, state and federal governments have failed to address by making the necessary investments.
The failure to invest in public infrastructure projects, like replacing lead-tainted pipes is costing the nation in other areas like healthcare.
According to the Chicago-Tribune report, “Between 2015 and 2020, tap water in dozens of Illinois homes had hundreds and even thousands of parts per billion of lead — just as extreme as what researchers found during the same period in Flint, where mismanagement of the public water system exposed children to the toxic metal and drew a world spotlight to the scourge.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of lead poisoning show up in newborns, children, and adults.
Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children include:
- Developmental delay
- Learning difficulties
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sluggishness and fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing loss
- Eating things, such as paint chips, that aren’t food (pica)
Lead poisoning symptoms in newborns
Babies exposed to lead before birth might:
- Be born prematurely
- Have lower birth weight
- Have slowed growth
Lead poisoning symptoms in adults
Although children are primarily at risk, lead poisoning is also dangerous for adults. Signs and symptoms in adults might include:
- High blood pressure
- Joint and muscle pain
- Difficulties with memory or concentration
- Abdominal pain
- Mood disorders
- Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
- Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women
It is very apparent that lead poisoning is a crisis in the United States and is a problem that demands the attention of lawmakers and regulatory bodies. In the meantime, it would be wise for residents who rely on tap water to invest in water filtration products.
This has been Scotty Reid with a Black Talk Radio News report. Black Talk Radio Network needs your help to stay online after 13 years of providing content made by and for Black people. Make a Tax-deductible donation to the non-profit Black Talk Media Project today.