Erie County seeks grant to help remove lead paint from old houses

SANDUSKY It's time to get the lead out to ensure the health of Sandusky's children, Erie
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

It’s time to get the lead out to ensure the health of Sandusky’s children, Erie County officials say.

Lead paint poisoning is a serious problem in Erie County, particularly in Sandusky, which has many old houses.

To combat the problem, the Erie Regional Planning Commission is seeking a $3 million grant of federal Housing and Urban Development funds. The money would be spent over three years to remove lead paint from county homes and to test more children for lead paint poisoning.

Tim King, senior planner at the Erie Regional Planning Commission, said Erie County has applied for the grant twice before without getting any money.

By now, though, areas with larger populations have received funding, and that would seem to clear the way for communities such as Erie County, King said.

Statistics show that Erie County has high numbers of children younger than 6 with lead poisoning, King said.

“You can’t have a better argument than what we have,” King said.

HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control says lead can cause many health problems, especially with young children, damaging vital organs such as the brain, nerves, kidneys and blood.

An article posted on the office’s Web site says lead can cause behavior problems, learning problems, seizures and even death.

“Some symptoms of lead poisoning may include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness and irritability,” the article says. “Children who are lead poisoned may show no symptoms.”

King said he hopes to find out by late fall if Erie County will get the grant.

The grant would pay to clean up 220 homes with lead paint, either by removing the lead or by encapsulating it — removing the health threat by enclosing the lead paint with another surface.

The grant would also allow expanded testing of children for lead paint poisoning.

Last year, 561 children in Erie County were tested for lead paint poisoning.  A grant would allow the Erie County Health Department to expand its testing to about 1,000 children a year.

“It’s a pretty big problem, especially in communities with older housing stock like Sandusky, Milan Village and Vermilion,” said Bob England, director of environmental health at the Erie County Health Department.

Testing found 12 children younger than 6 with lead poisoning in Erie County in 2005. The number fell to 8 in 2006, but reached 15 children in 2007, England said.

Fourteen of those 15 were in Sandusky, and one was in an outlying village, Health Commissioner Peter Schade said.