CLEVELAND — City leaders are pushing for a lead-safe Cleveland, with legislation going in front of council on Monday.
Trying to succeed where other efforts fell short, Cleveland city leaders announced a goal back in January to make the city lead safe by the year 2028. Comprised of several different public, private and philanthropic entities, The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition aims to drastically reduce the number of children exposed to the toxic heavy metal through identifying funding mechanisms, community outreach and new or updated legislation.
“We know that the primary driver of lead poisoning in Cleveland is the inhalation and ingestion of lead based dust, and so we have to do and work together to make sure all homes and environments where kids can be found and kids are playing and working and being toddlers are safe," Daniel Cohn, a member of the coalition said.
The coalition is suggesting a year-long ramp-up phase where complying is voluntary, with perks for those who adopt it. Two years after the roll out phase, people must follow the guidelines. Mandatory compliance would phase in two zip codes at a time every three months.
CLASH, another group pushing for a lead-safe Cleveland, is calling for landlords to prove their homes are lead-safe by March of 2021.
“We know that hundreds of kids every year for the last 30, 40 decades get poisoned because of inhaling the dust, chewing on the chips. We’re talking about infancy through the sixth year of age when the brains are developing. Once they are poisoned, it cannot be repaired," Jeff Johnson, a member of CLASH said.
In Cleveland, lead exposure among the city’s youth typically comes from peeling paint or lead dust from homes built before the federal government outlawed lead paint in 1978. Studies have estimated that more than 80 percent of Cleveland’s housing stock was built before 1978.
Lead exposure can lead to academic difficulties and behavioral disorders, among other negative health outcomes.
Future changes would likely revolve around amending the city’s existing enforcement efforts, according to city officials.