lead | WOSU Radio


Cleveland Unveils First Measure To Prevent Lead Poisoning

Jun 4, 2019

A proposed ordinance would set a timetable for lead inspections and cleanup in all Cleveland rental units built before 1978.

Every rental unit in the city would have to be inspected beginning March 1, 2021, under newly introduced Under Ord. 747-2019, and all units would have to be certified as lead safe by 2023. Violations would carry civil and criminal penalties.

Councilman Blaine Griffin co-sponsored the legislation, along with Council President Kevin Kelley and Councilman Kerry McCormack.

A list of 33 recommendations for dealing with Cleveland’s ongoing lead crisis, presented to the city council Monday by experts and activists, did not include a way to pay for inspections and fixes to lead contaminated housing.

Councilman Blaine Griffin, chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, hinted the funding could come from a new tax or foundation support or another source.

About a year ago, at one years old, Eden Tobik was found to have a blood lead level of 19. Any amount of lead is harmful to young children; five is the threshold of concern.

Her mother, Casey Tobik, was devastated.

“Shock, guilt, shame, fear, despair, terror, sets in,” said Tobik. “And then you Google it and it gets even worse.”

In 1985, Darrick Wade was living in Lakeview Terrace on Cleveland’s near west side with his family when he first started noticing something was off with his son, Demetrius.

"When he was about two years old, I believe he had an episode of an attack of the lead, that toxin," Wade said. "Because he shook a chair real angrily, and I didn’t understand where that anger came from at such a young age."

Children with toxic lead exposure will soon have fewer roadblocks to qualify for Ohio’s Early Intervention program.

State lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review today paved the way for the Department of Developmental Disabilities to automatically include children with elevated blood levels in the program.  This will include children with a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or higher, said Gabriella Celeste, the policy director of Case Western Reserve University’s Shubert Center for Child Studies.

Cleveland plans nearly to double its voluntary lead paint inspections of rental properties this year, according to a presentation given to city council on Monday.

Building and Housing Director Ayonna Blue Donald told council the city plans to inspect 1,875 rental units for lead paint dust, a 90 percent increase over the 985 inspections conducted last year.

This year’s planned inspections represent about three percent of the 59,000 units in the city’s registry of rental properties. Cleveland also plans 7,500 rental inspections for other forms of code violations this year.

Advocates of lead paint legislation say they’ll go to the ballot if Cleveland City Council doesn’t adopt a measure requiring that rental properties be made safe from lead.

Leaders of Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) want the city to require landlords to make rental properties safe from lead paint by 2021. At a news conference Monday morning, group members said they plan to collect petition signatures to force council to address the issue.

Cleveland will announce a goal on Tuesday to bring down the rate of childhood lead poisoning and make the city “lead safe” by 2028, Council President Kevin Kelley said in an interview Monday afternoon.

By 2028, Kelley said, the city aims for no children to register blood-lead levels above five micrograms per deciliter, which experts have considered a threshold for poisoning. He called the 10-year goal “aggressive but reasonable,” saying that the specific details of the city’s plan are still being worked out.

Report: Cleveland Has Lead Levels As High As Flint

Jan 9, 2019
Jeff St. Clair / WKSU

Children in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have a higher risk of lead exposure than other parts of the state, according to a report out of Case Western Reserve University this week.


New requirements aim to keep Ohioans safe from lead contamination in their drinking water.

In its first year, Cleveland’s Rental Inspection Unit has completed 763 random tests for lead dust.

Out of those inspections, the city issued 34 violations, with less than half of those properties now cleared of their lead hazard.

Department of Building and Housing Director Ayonna Blue Donald testified before city council’s Development, Planning, and Sustainability Committee Tuesday, saying she wants three additional properties cleared by the end of the year.

11 appeals were filed and Donald said the remaining five violations are heading toward prosecution.

A partnership focused on tracking and treating elevated levels of lead in Cleveland children found 11 percent of those tested had levels higher than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public action standard.

One hundred and sixty students ages 3 to 6 in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District were tested in the spring and program directors are working to test an additional 20 students this month.

Students at Mound Elementary School participated in the first round of lead testing in the partnership between the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Case Western Reserve University.
Ashton Marra / ideastream

On a Monday morning, Mound Elementary School Nurse Angelique King walks kindergartener Darrell into a small classroom, sits with him at a knee-high table and pulls out an alcohol wipe.

Cleaning up lead paint from contaminated homes takes a lot of money. By one estimate from the Cleveland Foundation, it could cost $50 million to make some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods safe from the toxin.

So who’s going to pay for that? Cuyahoga County and philanthropic leaders think private investors might be swayed to put up the cash. This financial model is called “pay for success,” and it’s becoming more popular with local governments.

Chipping Lead Paint
Tim Rudell / WKSU

The Erie County Health Department says results from a spring testing program are showing elevated lead levels in the blood of far more local children than expected.