An Economic Analysis of Lead Abatement Solutions in South Bend

Joshua Brooks

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There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, and in South Bend rates of lead poisoning are extremely high – in some census tracts, over 30% of children screened showed elevated blood lead levels. On top of this, screening rates are very low with less than 10% of estimated children screened for lead exposure. This report analyzes the current literature regarding childhood lead exposure, the effects on children, policy considerations to mitigate exposure, and the costs and benefits of different prevention mechanisms.

The local government of St. Joseph County and Indiana must take steps to ensure childhood intervention at lower blood lead levels and subsequent home remediation for eligible families. Furthermore, a cost-benefit analysis specific to St. Joseph County finds net benefits of over $80.7 million had lead-based paint remediations been carried out for the homes of 1,922 children over 2005-2015.

Home remediation impacts the child’s resulting blood lead level, which translates to higher IQ and lifetime earnings while the value of a home is expected to increase as well. The resulting benefits demonstrate the importance of lowering the Indiana threshold for an elevated case to 5 µg/dL, compared to the current threshold of 10 µg/dL. Finally, the community-academic partnership led by Joshua Brooks and Kyle Moon, “Mulch Madness” was carried out to remediate leaded soil, increase awareness, and connect residents with prevention resources available. This appendix of this report reflects on the importance of the event, highlighting Notre Dame’s role in bolstering the public health of the community.