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Faith Leaders, IUPUI To Provide Anonymous Lead Testing Kits Statewide

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Education, Faith and Religion, Family Issues, Government, Health

A group of Indiana faith leaders has teamed up with IUPUI to provide free, anonymous lead testing kits in Indianapolis, Muncie and, eventually, statewide. The program aims to break down barriers for Black, Brown and other communities of color, and lower-income communities who are more likely to be exposed to lead at home.

Lead can affect kids’ ability to learn, cause behavioral issues and poor kidney function.

Ivan Douglas Hicks is the pastor of First Baptist Church in north Indianapolis and part of the Indianapolis Ministerium — a group of faith leaders that advocates for causes affecting widows and children. He said Indianapolis’s high lead levels have rivaled Flint, Michigan, and several kids in the city have been misdiagnosed with other issues.

“They’re given Prozac and Ritalin as opposed to really discovering that lead poisoning presents in the same way,” Hicks said.

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But some parents are hesitant to get their child’s blood or their home tested for lead. Hicks said that’s because government agencies may look at other health and safety hazards while they’re in your home — and people who can’t afford to fix them quickly could face fines or worse.

“How far more vulnerable do you feel when it’s your children and the opportunity for the government to take away your child because you’re trying to help your child?” Hicks said.

The home lead testing kits can help parents get the information they need without the fear of government repercussions. The kits sample for lead in dust in the home as well as water and soil.

Hicks said the Faith/Lead Initiative aims to provide knowledge and relief to families, but also to make sure money the state of Indiana sets aside for lead abatement goes to the people who need help the most.

So far, 400 lead testing kits have been given to families in Indianapolis and Muncie. The kits will be available statewide this summer.

To get a lead testing kit, email firstbaptistindy@gmail.com or call (317)-250-0855.

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.