Flint, Michigan is widely regarded as one of the worst lead crises in the country’s history. But what if we told you, there were higher levels of lead than in Flint, affecting thousands of people in Cleveland.
According to one report, Cleveland is one of many areas in the U.S. that has higher concentrations of lead exposure than Flint, Michigan…
“Unlike in Flint, Michigan, the problem here is actually with the paint on the sides of all of these homes you see here,” said Michael Flemming, the Executive Director of the St. Clair-Superior Development Corporation.
For decades, old homes in Cleveland’s St. Clair-Superior neighborhood have been covered in old paint, lead paint.
“We saw blood-lead levels really elevated for kids under the age of six,” said Flemming.
In fact, according to the CDC half of all kids tested there in the last decade have had elevated levels of lead. It’s a public health emergency that the public is now more aware of because of the crisis in Flint.
“It’s now coming to the fore because you have so much dilapidated housing and abandonment that’s happened in this neighborhood and really on the east side of Cleveland,” said Flemming.
“It’s important to identify children with high blood levels of lead, but equally important is to crack down on the conditions that are causing that,” said Cleveland City Councilman, Brian Cummins, who is also the Council Chair of Health and Human Services Committee.
There’s no easy fix. Federal, state, and local funding has all been cut to help reduce sources of lead.
“Lifelong effects on those individuals on their families, everything,” said Cummins.
There has been major progress though. A healthy food initiative, public education on the impacts of lead exposure, and increased testing has all proven effective. The city says they’ll hopefully be introducing an initiative to reduce lead in city rental properties next year.