Tuesday, December 20, 2016

City Bureau in Chicago Publishes Comprehensive "Living with Lead" Series

The "Living with Lead" series provides an equally informative 
and emotional look at lead poisoning in Chicago.
Photo: Jean Cochrane/ South Side Weekly

Last week, the City Bureau of Chicago published a momentous series on the city's lead crisis. The series - part photo essay, part news article and part community outreach - informs the public about the dangers of lead, its sources, and how to protect their families from lead poisoning. The series also includes candid interviews with lead poisoning victims, as well as the advocates pushing for stricter lead laws and more federal attention to this crisis.

The series begins with an introduction that provides an uncomplicated history of lead and the lead crisis in Chicago. This section also includes contact information for local lead testing outreaches and doctors specializing in lead poisoning. It contains infographics on the pervasiveness of lead throughout the city, and an unflinching, candid photo essay on the faces of lead poisoning.

In another section, "Where It Starts," the series provides more uncomplicated explanation - this time about the city's lead pipe water infrastructure and its contribution to lead toxicity. This section also spotlights the work of citizens taking action against lead poisoning; pushing for fairness and safety, their advocacy has seen some progress.

In "Paths to Contamination and Where We Live and Play," the series discusses various ways the public can be exposed to lead. Most frighteningly, sources of lead exposure include school water fountains, park water fountains and lead paint chips in homes. These sections also discusses how the city is trying to remediate lead exposure; yet they also note the pervasiveness of lead contaminated buildings in Chicago, and how difficult it can be for at-risk families to find safe housing.

The final section, "Where We Go From Here," covers the initiatives underway to prevent and treat lead poisoning among at-risk victims. In particular, the Illinois Department of Human Services is considering allowing all children with elevated blood lead levels - not just children who already display cognitive or physical disabilities - to be eligible for their Early Intervention program. The program provides free or low-cost therapy to affected children - the most represented demographic of lead poisoning.

Altogether, the Living with Lead series presents a comprehensive guide toward lead poisoning. The stories presented are equally informative and influential; in the face of such a negative and overwhelming problem, at least the community of Chicago is taking action to make their futures safer and brighter.

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