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Nonprofit gives away hundreds of water filters to help combat lead in Cleveland

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 20:25:09-04

CLEVELAND — Between homes, rentals and infrastructure, correcting Cleveland’s lead problem is no easy fix.

Reports showthe city has lead-poisoning rates nearly four times the national average.

In a parking lot in Shaker Square, a crowd quickly gathered as Tanis Quach, founder of the grassroots nonprofit Undivided Cleveland, handed out hundreds of free water filters.

"This is a scratch on the surface of what we want to do," Quach said. "When a child gets lead poisoning, the likelihood of them excelling academically drastically diminishes."

Last month, News 5 reported how four out of every five rentals still are not deemed lead-safe.

RELATED: Four years into Cleveland's decade-long quest to become 'lead-safe,' leaders say work needs to ramp up

It's an issue that still bothers Erika Jarvis, thirty years after she first dealt with her own case of lead poisoning.

"This is a 40-50 year problem that we’ve been dealing with," she said. "I had a lot of behavioral issues, I had to take speech therapy, just a lot of different things and sometimes parents feel a lot of regret about having their children poisoned by lead and it’s their fault and it reality isn't."

It was a problem at the time potentially impacting more than 80% of the city’s homes and was found in the peeling paint on homes built before 1978.

Among those passing by who come away with a new filter is 63-year-old Sansiray Norfleet.

Norfleet knows just how evident lead can be in the pipes, on the walls, and in the dust.

When the pandemic started, she switched to bottled water and never looked back, figuring it was one less variable to worry about.

Sansiray Norfleet shows off her new water filter, in an effort to better protect herself against the possibility of lead.

"This is the safest way to do it," Norfleet said. "I feel safer drinking the water and want to grab a glass, I’m okay. That’s great for me."

Quach told News 5 they are planning more water filter giveaways throughout Cleveland including 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. on March 23 at Cleveland Heights library located on 2345 Lee Road, and the nonprofit is currently looking for more sponsors to help fund their efforts.

To learn more about Cleveland's Lead Safe program and apply for assistance,click here.

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