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Schumer pushing for more federal funding for lead removal programs in Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is making a big push to get the federal government to spend more money on lead removal programs. Specifically, Schumer is pointing to the city of Syracuse is a prime example of why more money needs to be pumped into controlling and removing lead from older homes.

At least 675 children in Syracuse had high lead levels in their blood last year. It’s a symptom of an old housing stock filled with lead paint that wasn’t banned until 1978. To remedy this, Schumer has a two-pronged strategy to get more federal remediation money to central New York.

"One, with the increase we got last year, send Syracuse some of that money," Schumer said. "It’s one of the largest cities without getting money from the federal government. It's one of largest cities in the northeast and midwest that doesn’t get money. And second fight to get a new increase so we have a better chance to get more money next year.”

Schumer is also urging the federal government to restart the lead abatement program in the city of Syracuse, that was halted in 2015 due to mismanagement. The city is asking for $4.1 million in federal funding to get that program going again. Most of the funds would be used to replace windows and doors that are the source of most of the lead laden dust in these old homes.

"Because the real issue is we’re getting these kids too late." Said Travis Hobart, Assistant Medical Director of the Central/Eastern New York Lead Poisoning Resource Center.  And if the house had been identified and fixed, before the kid was living there, then there wouldn’t be the problem.  This is totally preventable.”

Elevated lead levels in children can cause brain and kidney damage as well as learning difficulties.

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.