Authorities to Address Pilsen’s Lead Pollution Concerns Free Lead Screenings for Children and Pregnant Women, June 11 & 12

Monday June 06 2011

The prompt response from community residents to new revelations of high lead pollution in the air has also prompted a quick response from city authorities. After concerns were raised, the Chicago Department of Public Health has agreed to screen for lead all children between six months and six years of age, as well as pregnant women. The screenings are absolutely free and no one will be turned away. The schedule is as follows:

Saturday June 11: 9am – 1pm
– Alivio Medical Center, 966 W. 21st St.
Sunday June 12: 10am – 2pm
– St. Procopius Church, 1641 S. Allport
– St. Paul Church, 2127 W. 22 Pl.

A week after Pilsen residents packed the last general meeting May 11, the Department of Health joined forces with Pilsen Alliance, PERRO, Alivio Medical Center and the Healthy Schools Campaigns to screen for lead any at risk Pilsen resident.

In 2010 a lead monitor in Pilsen recorded average lead levels in the air at the federal limit or above it during most of the year. One time lead readings were 10 times above the federal norm.

Chicago’s number one source of lead emissions is H Kramer & Co., 1345 W. 21st Street, a metal smelter operating in the community since 1882. Another source of toxic emissions in Pilsen is the Fisk plant, 1111 W. Cermak Road, a coal-based power station owned by Midwest Generation.

Lead poisoning is a very serious health hazard, especially in children. It can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and in extreme cases death. The major source of lead exposure among children is lead-based paint, however, this heavy metal is also often associated with industrial activity.