CLE children at greatest risk for lead poisoning

Posted at 7:27 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 19:27:25-05
Concerns about water tainted with lead in Flint, Michigan, as well as in Sebring and Chagrin Falls, Ohio have put a spotlight on the issue.
On Friday, Chagrin Falls school superintendent Robert Hunt said the district would expand its testing for lead to about 20 different water sources. That move comes after the state EPA said there could be elevated lead levels in one drinking fountain at Gurney Elementary School.
As a precautionary measure, the district has also switched to bottled water, at least until test results return on Feb. 3.
Test results from three different public water fountains in Cleveland, using a common water analysis kit available in stores, found no detectable levels of lead. Watch those results in the video player above.
Meanwhile, health experts told poisoning from old homes with lead paint remains a bigger concern, especially in Cuyahoga County.
The county’s board of health said there’s about 2,000 new child lead poisoning cases every year. That number accounts for about half of all cases across the entire state.
Experts blamed the county’s high population and large stock of old homes, the vast majority of which were built before 1978, when the use of lead paint was standard.
That’s why Brandon Watson is concerned his newborn child may have lead poisoning.  He said there’s lead paint all over his home on East 83rd Street.
"I have kids and they like to play,” Watson said. "They like to be on the floor, picking stuff up, putting it in their mouth.”
Cleveland Clinic pediatrician Michelle Medina said doctors are trained to ask about possible lead poisoning, but actual blood testing, while recommended, is not required.
"It's a tragedy because it's definitely preventable,” Dr. Medina said. "Lead can actually be damaging to any organ in the body, but what we're particularly worried about is the developing brain.”
Those effects may not show up for years to come, often in the form of poor performance in school.
It’s why Watson and his children said they are moving.
"I'm really trying to get it together,” Watson said, “And get out of here.”
In September, the federal department of Housing and Urban Development announced about $7 million in grant funding for the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County for the purposes of reducing the number of homes with toxic levels of lead.


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