Northern Indiana county starts fund to protect kids from lead

SOUTH BEND (AP) — A northern Indiana county is setting up a fund devoted to addressing lead-poisoning among children who’ve ingested the toxic heavy metal.

The St. Joseph County Council’s new “lead crisis fund” will be tapped by the county’s health department to finance environmental specialists and nurses.

Council members plan to set aside $200,000 for the fund this year, and commit another $200,000 as part of the department’s 2019 budget. But they hope local governments and health systems will also chip in to finance the fund.

The South Bend Tribune reports that data has shown children in some South Bend neighborhoods have some of Indiana’s highest lead-poisoning rates.

Exposure to even low levels of lead can damage a child’s developing brain, lowering their IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement.