Syracuse lawmakers hope new law will bring down rate of lead paint exposure
The city of Syracuse this week begins the process of putting a law on the books that addresses lead poisoning. Officials hope it can make a dent in the city's high rate of lead exposure in children.
Currently, the presence of lead in rental housing isn’t a code violation. The city can’t force landlords to replace poisoned lead paint on walls, doors and windows. That would all change if a new ordinance is approved, according to Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll.
"What this will do is clarify that it is, in fact, a code violation and when code inspectors go in to check with rental registry, they’ll be doing dust swipes to make sure lead is not a hazard," Driscoll said.
City lawmakers today are expected to vote on moving ahead with a draft environmental impact statement that starts the process of public comment on the proposal. Driscoll hopes it becomes law in April, and admits it’s a big deal for the city codes department.
"It’s a seismic shift for codes, because we have to train up all the inspectors on how to do this, and develop a lot of new systems in order to implement this program," he said.
Driscoll has been pushing this idea for two years. He said it’s worth it because more than 10% of children test positive for lead paint poisoning in Onondaga County. But that number jumps to more than 20% in some city neighborhoods. Presence of lead in a child’s blood can lead to reduced motor skills, aggressive behavior and learning disabilities among other things.