CLEVELAND — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine released the Lead Advisory Committee's final report Saturday along with recommendations on how to protect children from lead poisoning.
“Every child deserves to live up to his or her full potential, but too many children’s opportunities and dreams are stifled by lead poisoning,” said DeWine. “I'm grateful to the members of the Lead Advisory Committee for their time, expertise, and tireless efforts to protect Ohio’s children from lead poisoning.”
The committee was formed in 2019 and “tasked with developing recommendations to prevent and treat lead poisoning and advise on the state’s efforts to address lead hazards,” according to DeWine’s office. The committee is comprised of medical professionals, construction trades and officials from local government.
DeWine’s office said that is has made 21 recommendations for the following topics:
- Education and Outreach
- Data Collection and Sharing
- Lead Hazard Control
The recommendations are designed to help families like Thekisha Tutstone and her 5-year-old son, Tracel.
Back in 2019, Tracel was diagnosed with lead poisoning. Tutstone believes he was exposed while they were living in an apartment building in Downtown Cleveland.
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They moved out last year, and now after many treatments, Tracel is happy and healthy.
Tutstone said she’s glad to hear about the state’s recommendations.
“It's good, especially in buildings like those that I was in, because at that time, the apartment manager, she didn't care,” Tutstone said. “And so it's good and they need to be on it more because of stuff like this. They said it could affect his health in the long run. So I'm glad that they're doing that since I went through it.”
The recommendations include informing Ohioans about the dangers of lead poisoning, increasing testing for children to determine if they have lead poisoning and having the Ohio Department of Health work with families who have children with lead poisoning. The report also recommends that ODH partners with trade associations along with state and local agencies to provide training to individuals and agencies who work with families exposed to lead poisoning. The report also recommends landlords and property owners enroll in the Lead Safe Rental Registry and identify lead hazards on their properties.
“The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and Ohio Department of Health will now prioritize the implementation of these recommendations,” DeWine’s office said.
But some believe the recommendations aren't enough.
“The governor's task force has failed again to recognize the fact that it's immoral for Ohio to use children as lead testers instead of getting the lead out of the houses in the first place,” said Spencer Wells the financial Secretary for the Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH).
Wells said many of those recommendations have been in place for decades, but the lead situation in Cleveland is only getting worse.
“They would have to implement them strenuously with more resources just to get back to where they were five years ago,” Wells said.
He said CLASH is instead putting its hopes in Cleveland's new lead safe housing ordinance which goes into effect on March 1.
“Will require owners of properties that were built before 1978 to certify that they're lead safe before children get poisoned,” Wells said. “We're urging the city to be more on top of it, register those houses faster and really have some serious enforcement for owners that are resisting doing it.”
“Our hope statewide is that we'll be so successful that the state will come to realize this, as a number of other states have, that you really got to focus on getting the lead out of the houses. And it's much cheaper and moral to do that in contrast to trying to get it out of the children later,” Wells said.
CLICK HERE to read the full final report.
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