KALEN LUCIANO: Last time on Lead On:
DARRELL KING: We’re in full compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.
TOM NELTNER: So who you’re going to miss are typically working families. You might miss younger families.
DARRELL KING: Well, most of the time, it just really comes down to access. You’d be amazed at how difficult it is to get people to participate.
ROBIN RUE SIMMONS: I disagree with there being barriers. That is an excuse that I would not tolerate going forward. We have families that need to know if they are vulnerable to unhealthy lead levels in their water.
KALEN LUCIANO: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Kalen Luciano.
HEENA SRIVASTAVA: And I’m Heena Srivastava. This is the second episode of Lead On, a podcast about Evanston’s biased lead testing practices. This podcast is serialized, so if you like what you hear, you might want to go back and listen from the start.
KALEN LUCIANO: After analyzing nearly 30 years of lead testing in Evanston’s water, we found something strange: 60 percent of all samples came from only two of Evanston’s nine wards. These wards — the 6th and 7th — are historically White and wealthy areas in north Evanston. Evanston’s historically Black 5th Ward made up only 1.8 percent of the sampling pool despite holding 10 percent of the city’s population.
HEENA SRIVASTAVA: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule, or LCR, requires all community water systems, including cities like Evanston, to routinely sample their water for lead contamination. But our research showed that Evanston’s sampling procedures were not representative of the city’s population. Last episode, we looked into how Evanston’s procedures and the LCR cause biased testing.
KALEN LUCIANO: Evanston’s testing practices are technically legal, but they exclude communities of color. This episode, we wanted to figure out why biased sampling matters and what undersampling means for communities that are left out. So we spoke with Feinberg pediatrician Helen Binns.
HELEN BINNS: I have been working in the field of lead prevention and lead poisoning treatment since about 1992 when I did an initial research project on exposures to lead in primary care settings in the metropolitan area outside of Chicago. And I have been still doing lead poisoning treatment since then.
KALEN LUCIANO: Binns is kind of a big deal in the lead world. In addition to her decades of clinical work, she also served on the Illinois Lead-Safe Housing Task Force. Over the past thirty years, she’s worked at the center of Chicago’s lead poisoning treatment program and watched the caseload shrink over time.
HEENA SRIVASTAVA: Binns says the prevalence of lead poisoning is down in the state of Illinois. When she first started in 1992, lead poisoning occurred so frequently that two pediatricians worked one to two full days a week treating patients. Now, Binns…
Read more:: Drinking from a lead straw