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'Lives are at stake': Families urge the city to adopt practices to handle lead paint poisoning

Posted at 10:43 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 06:46:41-04

Some Cleveland families and two city entrepreneurs believe much more needs to be done to move forward in mitigating the lead paint poisoning problem threatening the well-being of thousands of northeast Ohio children.

Robin Brown, whose 4-year-old daughter suffered from lead painting poisoning in 1999, believes lawmakers at every level need to take the lead paint issue more seriously.

Brown founded her own organization, Concerned Citizens Organized Against Lead, in 2005.

She hosts training sessions and public meetings, teaching homeowners, tenants and parents about the potential hazards of lead paint.

Brown and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland believe as many as 40,000 to 50,000 Northeast Ohio homes still could be exposing children to toxic lead paint dust.

She said the city of Cleveland has so far only opened lead mitigation cases on 340 city homes.

"Why are we not doing anything to save our children," Brown said.

"Lives are at stake. I call it the silent epidemic because no one is talking about it, but it is an epidemic."

"From the federal, state and local level should be doing something, because it's inhumane to have children become poisoned," said Brown.

Karyn Alexis is the owner of Cleveland Dream Builders, a painting company that is now teaching young people to paint and become entrepreneurs.

Her company is also teaching painters how to obtain their RRP lead paint mitigation certification.

Alexis believes more training and education concerning the lead paint issue is needed at every level to significantly reduce the on-going threat.

"My nephew was poisoned from a garage next-door to his house," Alexis said.

"A lot of professionals are unaware that they need the certification.  Some people think that they can just go in here, scrape this off and paint over it."

"But if the city is not going to follow through, then you have individuals like myself that have had their license for two years, but there's not enough work."

Both women believe more funding is needed to protect children from a problem that can cause permanent brain damage and a host of other physical and cognitive issues.

"We have thousands of kids getting poisoned each year, a couple of city caseworkers is not going to reach these families, I'm sorry," Brown said

"Lawmakers at the federal, state and local level should be doing something because it's inhumane to have children become poisoned," she said.