Ted Booker | November 28, 2017
The city has lots of lead-tainted homes that can poison young kids, but exactly how serious is the problem in different neighborhoods?
To help answer that question, the University of Notre Dame Lead Innovation Team has partnered with Adams High School on a unique research project.
Earlier this week, university students and faculty handed out a total of 1,340 lead test kits to students in science classes, who will take them home to collect samples of dust, paint and soil.
Returned samples will then be tested for lead using a hand-held analyzer by the Notre Dame team, with help from International Baccalaureate students at Adams. Samples will be tested in December and January, with results available in February.
Results will be used by the research team to map where lead-tainted homes are located across the city, exposing areas with the greatest problems.
Those with positive lead results will be sent information with tips for keeping homes lead-safe, such as repainting window sills, dusting often and taking shoes off before going indoors. They'll also be directed to agencies that do free blood lead testing, along with local grant programs for repairing lead hazards.
Lead-based paint in old homes has been a stubborn problem in South Bend, dating back decades.
But local health officials and Notre Dame began focusing on the area's problem after the state released testing data in late 2016 that showed an unusually high percentage of young children had elevated lead levels in their blood from 2005 through 2015 on the city's near northwest side; one neighborhood, called U.S. Census Tract 6, had the highest percentage of lead-poisoned kids among census tracts statewide.