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Latino State News

Lead Pollution Detected at Pilsen Elementary School, Nearby Smelter Accused

In Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, toxic levels of lead have been measured in the air outside an elementary school, and state and federal officials believe they may have found the source.

Monitors were placed on the roof of Perez Elementary school, which sits at 1241 W, 19th Street earlier this month.

Neighbors have said that when they breathe the air, they get a metallic taste in their mouths. In over one-fifth of the sampling days, the lead pollution exceeded federal health standards.

Investigators are now focusing their attention on a smelter in the neighborhood, just two blocks away form the school.

After the lead pollution was detected near Perez Elementary, monitors were placed at Benito Juarez Elementary in an attempt to pinpoint where it was coming from. The schools are in the same area; Perez to the north of the smelter, and Juarez less than two blocks west.

Thursday, a legal complaint was filed against H. Kramer and Co., accusing the company of emitting illegal amounts of brain-damaging pollution. The complaint was filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has also been asked to take enforcement action against the smelter.