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Onondaga County to hold town hall meetings on lead poisoning

Ellen Abbott
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, center, announces a series of town hall meetings on lead poisoning

Onondaga County’s latest salvo in the war against lead poisoning is a series of town hall events, with at least one meeting geared toward landlords or contractors who deal with older homes.

Just about every week, Kerry Quaglia of Home Headquarters gets a call from contractors, complaining about the federally required training and registration needed to minimize lead exposure.

"Just last week a contractor called and said 'I’m not going to do any more business on Home Headquarters financed projects cause I got to send workers to this training.'," said Quaglia. "I said, 'your beef would not be with Home Headquarters, it’s with the Environmental Protection Agency. You’ve had this responsibility for a decade'."

Quaglia hopes a town hall meeting September 24 will help contractors, as well as landlords, learn the particulars of lead-safe work practices established in 2010. The EPA rules apply to anyone who is working on a house built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.

A meeting September 26 focuses on anyone who provides services to families with young children and health officials. And the whole community is invited to a meeting October 1. There may good news by then. That’s when Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon expects to hear whether the county will win a federal grant to fight lead poisoning.

"Collaboratively, we’d have about $10 million in the community that could be invested in this issue," said McMahon.

Lead poisoning is a chronic issue in Syracuse, because of an old housing stock and high rate of poverty.  In 2017, 11% of children tested showed high levels of lead.

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.