A partnership between IUPUI researchers and faith organizations in Indianapolis is taking aim at the risk of household lead contamination by providing residents the tools they need to protect against it.
As a part of the Center for Urban Health at IUPUI's long-term effort to map lead levels across the city, organizers with the Indianapolis Ministerium's Faith Lead Initiative have begun to distribute lead test kits to residents on the near northwest side. The kits will provide participants with free, reliable lab results on potential lead exposure in their homes -- information that is often out of reach due to barriers such as cost and lack of education on the risks of lead.
The tests' results will also contribute to anonymous public data on household lead levels across Indianapolis through the center's Map My Environment website. This is the first time the website will contain data on lead levels in water.
"There are regulations about the allowable amount of lead in water, but the truth is there's no safe level of lead," said Gabriel Filippelli, director of the Center for Urban Health and a Chancellor's Professor at the School of Science at IUPUI. Filippelli's expertise played a major role in a 2020 report on childhood lead poisoning from the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. "It's a neurotoxin that permanently impairs the brain, and you can see markedly lower IQ and higher ADD/ADHD in children who are lead poisoned."
The risks of exposure are especially serious in infants and toddlers. Also, "it's been consistently found that lead testing rates are significantly lower in communities of color, even as the poisoning rate are significantly higher," he said.