The non-profit Near Northwest Neighborhood in South Bend hosted free lead testing for area residents Saturday.
The tests were primarily for children under the age of seven and pregnant women in census tract six on South Bend’s Northwest side.
Emily Dean is an outreach coordinator for Near Northwest Neighborhood. She said testing is the first step in addressing the issue of lead in the neighborhood.
“We’re hoping to empower people. You have the right to go to your doctor and ask for a lead test, don’t wait for your doctor to offer it to you,” Dean said, “You can call the health department to come to your house, they’re not going to come to you.”
Near Northwest will offer more testing days in the fall. Dean said this is the first round of testing that has been done in the area , that involves community outreach coordinators. She said the coordinatiors have knocked on doors, and taken a grassroots appraoch to educating people about lead and the risks associated with it.
When someone tests positive for lead, Dean said they should speak with their primary care physician and seek out the source of contamination immediately, to stop further exposure. She said sometimes exposure is not limited to the home, and children could be exposed other places.
Young children who ingest lead can suffer developmental and behavioral issues. However, if exposure is identified early, there are ways to reverse the those effects.