Since 2008, officials have obtained about $6.1 million in grants strictly for removing lead-based paints in area homes.
The grant money should abate lead in 440 homes. To date, 368 homes have been remedied and another 72 are scheduled for a cleaning.
The county plans to apply for another grant sometime next year, considering lead covers many walls inside homes in Erie County.
Almost 90 percent of homes built before 1940 in Erie County are prone to possible lead-based paint hazards, according to U.S. Census data and Erie Regional Planning.
“I would encourage everyone who has children under the age of 6 to take advantage of this program,” said Tim King, Erie Regional Planning’s senior planner. “Given the age of the housing stock in Erie County, the incidents of lead-based paints are high, and it’s important (children) be tested to find out what their lead levels are.”
Q&A on lead
Q: How can your child be exposed to lead paint?
A: Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell. Children may be exposed to it from consumer products through normal hand-to-mouth activity, which is part of their normal development. They often place toys, fingers and other objects in their mouth, exposing themselves to lead paint or dust.
Q: How do you test a toy for lead?
A: Only a certified laboratory can accurately test a toy for lead. Although do-it-yourself kits are available, they do not indicate how much lead is present and their reliability at detecting low levels of lead has not been determined.
Q: What should you do if you are concerned about your child’s exposure?
A: If you have any reason to suspect your child has been exposed to a toy containing lead, remove the toy immediately. If you believe your child has been exposed to lead paint or dust, remove the child from the area and have your home tested and treated. Most children with elevated blood lead levels have no symptoms. They only way to tell is to have a blood test. Your health care provider can help you decide whether such a test is needed and can also require treatment if your child has been exposed.
Q: How can I apply for grant money to remove lead in my home?
A: Erie County officials already reserved all their grant money for homes. But they’re applying for more. To contact the office, call 419-627-7792 or visit the office at 2900 Columbus Ave. during traditional business hours Monday through Friday.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Erie Regional Planning
The federal government outlawed lead-based paints in 1978. Research showed ingesting or inhaling the toxin may cause developmental problems in children up to 6 years old.
Lead’s also concerning because:
• Any exposure can harm young children and babies before they are born.
• Children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.
• It can negatively impact intelligence and cause stunted growth, impaired hearing, kidney damage, learning disabilities and death.