“We didn’t have a systematic community commitment to really address the issue. We had individual programs that moved along their separate pathways, but it wasn’t a community imperative. Childhood lead poisoning had reached epidemic proportions.”
– Terry Allan,
Cuyahoga County Board of Health Commissioner
Scroll down for an overview of the background, challenges and
outcomes of this long-term initiative.
Lead can damage a child’s brain, causing behavior problems, learning problems and slow growth.
Research also shows that lead poisoning has been linked to behavioral disorders among youth, low school achievement, hyperactivity, delinquency, adult crime and violence.
High levels of exposure can cause respiratory
problems, developmental delay, coma – even death.
85% of Cleveland homes were built before 1950
and most likely contain lead-based paint.
Lead can be present in:
Whether inhaled or ingested, even a small amount of lead is enough to
cause poisoning. Although medical treatments can remove lead from a
person’s system, it is often impossible to repair the damage,
and the consequences can be devastating.
Of the nearly 40,000 children tested, almost 8,000 of them showed elevated blood levels. And of those, 6,000 of them were under six years old.
Sandra Kiely Kolb
Saint Luke's Foundation
people have been trained in lead testing
and lead-safe maintenance and
removal since 2006.
More than 23,500 children are now tested annually for lead poisoning.
Lead poisoning among Greater Cleveland kids is down 67%
from 2004 and down 89% since 1997.
Community development agencies receive matching funds
from federal grants to repair other home hazards.
Thousands of low-income children in our community will not have to face the additional challenges created by lead poisoning in reaching their full potential.
Many homes still have lead hazards in Cuyahoga County, but families,
landlords, contractors and medical providers are better equipped to combat
this preventable childhood illness.
In 2014, Environmental Health Watch assumed the lead coordination role in combating home health hazards throughout Greater Cleveland neighborhoods.
“Over 10 years, we made remarkable progress...”
– Terry Allan
Health Commissioner, Cuyahoga County Board of Health