Balloons and toys remain in an abandoned West Calumet Housing Complex home. In July 2016, nearly 1,200 people in the West Calumet neighborhood learned that children had blood-lead levels six times what the Center for Disease Control considers poisonous. As mandated, residents began to move, but some remain as they struggle to find housing in the city of 29,000.
American industry disproportionately affects the health of low-income communities. East Chicago, Indiana — known as the country's "most industrialized municipality" during the 19th century — offers a glimpse into environmental inequities plaguing the rust belt.
Nearly 80 percent of the city is zoned for heavy industries that pollute the air, water, and soil. These industries, which once bolstered citizens’ economic futures, now threaten their existence.