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Cleveland Still Working Through Backlog of Lead Cases, Official Says

Lead paint chips and dust are often found around windows. (ideastream file image)
Lead paint chips and dust are often found around windows.

by Nick Castele

Cleveland officials say the city is working through its backlog of lead contamination cases, and trying to increase staff to take on new investigations.

Natoya Walker-Minor, the city’s acting health director, told council that temporary employees have identified what became of 1,334 cases in which children were poisoned by lead paint from 2003 to 2013.

Investigations had been completed on most of those cases, she said, but property owners complied with city rules in less than a quarter of them.

“I mentioned that I’m going to hire some compliance people, because I’ve got to drill down on, if the compliance hasn’t been reached, now what?” Walker-Minor said.

Walker-Minor said Cleveland has issued 31 notices of noncompliance—and is still researching another 1,738 cases in its backlog.

Meanwhile, she plans to hire three lead inspectors, bringing the total number up to five. Walker-Minor told council that following up on lead poisoning cases is a marathon, not a sprint.

“This is time-intensive,” Walker-Minor said. “These investigations take anywhere from three to six hours based on your skill level and how large the property is. And then you have to go in and update all the information through these systems.”

She says an earlier job posting didn’t yield enough qualified applicants, and that the city will try to hire inspectors from other counties in which federal grants for lead have not been renewed. 

nick.castele@ideastream.org | 216-916-6288