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Free soil sampling in Martindale-Brightwood and NearWest

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Free soil sampling for lead is now available to residents in Martindale-Brightwood and NearWest neighborhoods of Indianapolis under a federal grant being administered by Improving Kids’ Environment.

“If soil is high in lead, it could cause learning and behavior problems in young children – problems that affect them for life,” said IKE Executive Director Jodi Perras. “Lead poisoning also comes from lead paint dust, which is common in older homes in these neighborhoods. We want to help families protect their kids from lead in the environment.”

Children exposed to lead can have problems with learning, paying attention, and controlling violent behavior. Lead can even lower a child’s IQ score, making it more difficult for them to succeed in school.

“The communities of Martindale-Brightwood and NearWest need solutions for lead poisoning, which affects poor and minority communities the most,” Perras said. “These environmental injustices must be addressed.”

Under a $25,000 environmental justice grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Improving Kids’ Environment is working with IUPUI and neighborhood organizations to collect soil samples in the Martindale-Brightwood and NearWest neighborhoods and have them analyzed for lead. They are targeting homes with children under 6 or people who have vegetable gardens.

The testing is free.

There is no threat of enforcement. No one will order residents to correct levels of lead in their yard. IUPUI will send the test results to residents, and also provide information about how to protect children from lead. Trained home visitors will follow up with families to answer questions and teach them about how to reduce lead hazards in their home.

“Community volunteers can come to the home and collect the soil samples, or we can give residents a kit so they can collect the samples themselves,” Perras said. “These samples will help us identify places where we have high levels of lead in the soil in Martindale-Brightwood and NearWest.”

The EPA grant will also fund sampling of dust in the air for lead and other metals. IKE and IUPUI will be working with both neighborhoods to provide information about the sampling results and how residents can protect children from lead in the environment.

IKE is now gathering names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone willing to have their soil tested. To obtain free soil sampling for lead, call IKE at (317) 253-1312 or email ike@ikecoalition.org.

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