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Fewer children in Syracuse exposed to lead

Onondaga County Health Department
The number of children in Syracuse exposed to lead in older homes has dropped in recent years

The number of children exposed to lead in the city of Syracuse has dropped significantly in recent years. 

The problem that leads to lead poisoning in cities like Syracuse is the old housing stock. Before 1978, lead paint was often used to paint homes. 90 percent of housing in the city can have lead paint that needs remediating. 

But Onondaga County Community Health Director Rebecca Schults said the lead exposure numbers are on the way down.

'From 2012 to 2017 it’s gone down 28 percent," said Schults.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said the decrease can be attributed to community partners working together to identify homes that still contain lead pain, and get them fixed.

"To do that we have to the places where the kids live, the housing," said Gupta. "It’s important with our partners to make sure we do home inspections, to make sure kids are staying in lead free houses.” 

Gupta said it starts with primary prevention, which means working with landlords to inspect the homes for potential lead paint.

"Our inspectors go and check and work with landlords or people who rent the place," she said. "The goal is to make sure if there is lead paint to work with the landlord and help remediate them."

Gupta said there is money available to help landlords undertake remediation. She said as long as the city has an older housing stock, there is a potential for lead poisoning. So she is urging any family with young children to make sure apartments and homes are certified lead free. Lead poisoning can lower IQ’s, cause brain damage and other health problems.

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.