New York Lead Poisoning
October 6, 2003
ROCHESTER—The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired won a major federal contract, creating a $2 million, five year agreement to operate the National Lead Information Center hotline on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. Since the hotline began operations in July, agents have received a steadily increasing number of inquiries, currently totaling 10,000 per month.
The hotline is located in Rochester, a city with one of the highest rates of lead poisoning in the country. A few years ago, 41 percent of three, four, and five year-olds tested at School 17 in Rochester were found to have lead poisoning. The city and county officials have received $7 million in grants to address the problem caused by a large number of houses with peeling lead paint, but 2000 new cases of lead poisoning were diagnosed last year.
Child advocates and lead poisoning attorneys point to the continuing exposure as a sign that local laws need more teeth to hold property owners accountable for lead exposure. Ideally, they claim, the city will make peeling lead paint a violation of health and safety code and require all subsidized housing to be lead free. (90% of children in Rochester diagnosed with lead poisoning receive public assistance.)
Currently, the majority of the $7 million in grants is helping property
owners replace old windows and take other actions to help eliminate
lead paint from their homes.
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