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City of Syracuse, Onondaga County address lead poisoning prevention

Wayne Marshall
via Flickr

It’s Lead Poisoning Awareness Week. The City of Syracuse and Onondaga County are partners in fighting a complex issue.

The city handles the housing end of it, lead paint in houses accounts for high levels of lead in children — 80% of the houses in Syracuse were built before 1978 when lead paint was banned. Mayor Ben Walsh said the city has been successful in inspecting housing for lead dangers, citing 3,000 lead violations in just over a year.

“After a year of implementing our ordinance, we have cited over 3,000 lead or deteriorated paint violations at 1,674 unique properties," Walsh said. "That's in just over a year. Of those, 61% nearly 2,000, have been addressed and closed. That's what ultimately matters.”

The county for its part focuses on the testing and referral of lead poisoning cases. One of the latest ways to plug gaps in testing is a lead van, which Health Commissioner Katie Anderson said is making more inroads into the community.

"Going forward I'll say that we are ambitious in our plans for testing with the vehicle, as well as facilitating testing and other means," Anderson said. "We're reestablishing testing days at WIC, we're building other connections with early education providers, other types of programs in the community and so going forward we'll be more active but again it's just part of the solution."

Lead exposure in young children can lead to lifelong health problems including developmental delays and behavioral issues.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.