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Cleveland is trying to get a handle on its major lead poisoning backlog
City Council is briefed on health department turnaround efforts

Kevin Niedermier
Cleveland City Council met with health and housing officials for an update on efforts to improve lead-poisoning abatement programs.
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Cleveland averages an estimated 400 cases of lead poisoning each year, among the highest in the nation. And some members of Cleveland City Council believe the city’s prevention programs must focus more on eliminating lead in homes before children become sick.

During a hearing today, city health and housing officials briefed council on attempts to improve the city's enforcement and outlook. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports.

LISTEN: Council president on reoccurring lead poisoning cases in the same homes

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The Ohio Health Department has cited Cleveland for investigating less than 30 percent of recent cases in which a child has been diagnosed with lead poisoning. City health and housing officials told council more inspectors are being trained, and better record-keeping will be implemented to address the backlog of cases. Council President Kevin Kelly questioned how landlords can allow multiple cases of lead poisoning in a single rental unit.

“At what point is this criminal negligence? I mean we’re talking about poisoning kids. And if these same houses -- somebody moved out, OK, goodbye. New family moves in and we’re getting the same result. You know that’s kind of a clear-your-desk moment and something we need to deal with.”

Interim city Health Director Natoya Walker told council that in many cases the families involved are extremely transient and may move in and out before the child is diagnosed with lead poisoning. Meanwhile, another family moves in before the home is inspected.                                                  

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