In December 2015, the mayor of Flint, Michigan declared a state of emergency because of lead in the water supply. Lead in the soil had been poisoning residents in East Chicago for decades. Only in July 2016 did the city alert residents to the lead contamination, and that warning came in a letter that required eleven hundred people to immediately move from the area.

For The Baffler, Rebecca Burns details the story of East Chicago’s lead crisis and how environmental racism works. The Environmental Protection Agency is still trying to figure out which companies polluted this location with their old lead smelter and factories, and to determine the scale of the damage. The EPA might never know, and this is only one of numerous sites it’s investigating. Unfortunately, the disaster in East Chicago is one we will see repeated in other communities.

By the 1920s, the medical community pinpointed widespread…

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