Getting the Lead Out

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Local government leaders stood together on the steps of the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland to talk about the toll that lead exposure takes on the children of Northeast Ohio. A representative from Environmental Health Watch described the millions of dollars spent in the county for Juvenile Justice, Special Education and Public Health that he attributed directly to lead poisoning at an early age.

Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan said the foreclosure crisis has caused many families to move several times, making it difficult to trace cases of lead poisoning back to specific houses

TERRY ALLAN: What's happening now is that houses are being sold en mass often to foreign companies, which then sell them off for a song to others who are flipping them and they're tough to track. We're finding that children could be walking into a houses that represent hazards that they're not aware of. So, that's been a real challenge.

One way to meet that challenge, says Allan, is to add lead monitoring to standard house inspections. Although lead exposure is particularly high in Cleveland and East Cleveland, Allan says Cleveland Heights, Lakewood and parts of Garfield Heights also have lead problems in their housing stock.

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