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Tackling Cleveland's lead poisoning problem with a smartphone app

Posted: 7:49 AM, Feb 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-13 12:49:14Z

The past few years, Cleveland officials have been trying to figure out what to do with the lead poisoning problem lying dormant in thousands of homes in the city.

It's a decades-old problem created by aging and badly-maintained housing. 

Meanwhile, thousands of children living in homes all over Cleveland are at risk with homes they live in coated in lead paint or mold, among other things.

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But now there are a few local groups teaming up to help prevent those kids and their families from living in unhealthy circumstances.

How are they doing it? A smartphone app.

The idea is to help you stay better informed while keeping your family safe the next time you go house hunting.

“We’re really sort of unlocking this public data and putting it into the hands of homeowners and renters,” said Adam Perzynski, Chief Science and Strategy Officer, Global Health Metrix and one of the developers of the app.

The whole collaborative effort is called the Build Health Challenge, where 19 cities in the United States have been selected to find ways to improve the health disparities in their communities.

Cleveland is the first city to develop an app based on helping residents find healthy homes.

The project is bringing together local medical systems like MetroHealth and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s and non-profits like Environmental Health Watch, which assess homes and rental properties for potential health hazards like lead and mold.

Executive Director of the non-profit, Kim Foreman, said it’s all about being preventive.

“We want to bring a lot more education awareness around what it takes to live in a lead-safe house, even though it’s 100 years old, you can still live in a house that’s healthier and safe for your family,” she said.

One step is talking with residents to figure out their needs and wants for the app, then the information will go into the app that they’re hoping will be available later this year.

Once it goes live, renters will be able to look up a property and see whether there are any health codes violations and if they've been fixed before renting.

The whole goal is to help you find a home safe from hazards for your family,

The group is holding an informational meeting for residents on the east side at neighborhood leadership institute tonight at 5:30 p.m.