News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 24, 2013

Educators warn of lead problem in Terre Haute

TERRE HAUTE — With gardening season fast approaching, local educators are encouraging the community to get the lead out.

Saturday morning, dozens of participants gathered inside the homey atmosphere of Clabber Girl’s first floor to engage in a community workshop addressing the presence of lead in local soils. Part of Indiana State University’s Community Semester program, the presentation titled “Science Cafe — The Legacy of Leaded Gasoline, Lead-Based Paint, and Coal” featured Jennifer Latimer, professor of earth and environmental systems, as well as question and answer periods.

John Murray, dean of the university’s College of Arts and Science, said Saturday’s program is one of a 40-part series scheduled through spring, with topics ranging from Native American burial mounds to the science of bats.

“Every department is doing their own thing,” he said, surrounded. “It’s really to bring what we’re doing in the academic world into the community.”

Latimer explained that free lead testing is available through the university, and the issue isn’t limited to the paint in old buildings.

“A lot of people are broadly aware that lead content is a problem,” she said.

The “legacy environmental problem” of lead in soils is the result of many contributing factors, from fossil fuels to power plants, she explained. And once in the soil, it tends to remain there.

“The problem with lead is it’s not mobile in soils,” she said.

Children exposed to lead can suffer a wide range of neurological problems ranging from lowered IQ to heightened aggression and learning disabilities, she explained.

Urban gardeners should take this into consideration when planting food plants. Gardening techniques such as raised beds and various fertilizer schedules can all help combat the problem, she added.

“Lead is a serious issue, but it’s probably one of the most manageable,” she remarked.

Jim Speer, director of the university’s Institute for Community Sustainability, said the topic raises a lot of concerns as its cause is multifaceted. Terre Haute, he said, has double the lead problem relative to other communities, and 11 percent of its children under age 6 experience lead poisoning.

“We’re not sure what exactly causes it. It’s probably a lot of contributing factors,” he said, pointing out Terre Haute’s proximity to a power plant, the volume of train traffic carrying coal, and other cars using gasoline here.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Today in History for April 18th Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes
NDN Video
My name is Cocaine Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010