CNY Community Foundation pledges $2M to fight childhood lead poisoning

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - The Central New York Community Foundation is investing more than $2 million over four years to help end childhood lead poisoning in Syracuse.

Its new LeadSafeCNY initiative will fund a variety of approaches to address the region's alarming childhood lead poisoning rates.

According to the Onondaga County Health Department, more than 11 percent of Syracuse children tested in 2017 were shown to have elevated blood lead levels.

The initiative's first grants are going to support new housing construction, existing home renovations, community outreach and training and workforce development, totaling $439,750.

Community Foundation President & CEO Peter Dunn tells NewsChannel 9, "Lead poisons our children and in certain neighborhoods in the city, if you have upwards of 25 percent of the children being poisoned, that's a significant public health issue that demands an investment on our part and others." 

The Community Foundation will focus its initial efforts in and near two Syracuse neighborhoods found in 2017 to have the highest blood lead levels in children.

The first is located just north of I-690 between Pearl and Lodi streets where, more than 21 percent of children tested were shown to have elevated lead levels.

Lead Safe LLC Certified Risk Assessor Pat Strodel was at a Land Bank home at 735 North Alvord Street, training a new group of lead inspectors about what to look for and where during a lead inspection.

He says lead paint chips are bad, but dust containing lead is even more of an issue and says there's a way to mitigate that part of the problem.

"A wet clean, a mop versus a broom, wet cleaning like with baby wipes, the window sills, anyplace where a child could easily get access or where they play," Strodel says.

The second area being targeted is located in the Brighton neighborhood of Syracuse's Southside and includes the immediate area around the Beauchamp Library.

Dunn says children ages six and under are the most vulnerable to lead poisoning.

"You see it manifesting itself in lack of educational attainment, lower IQ, violence, impulse control."

Syracuse's aging housing stock is much to blame for the high rates of elevated lead levels in children.

More than 90 percent of the city's occupied units were built before lead paint was federally banned from use in 1978.

Click here to learn more about Lead Safe CNY.

Senator Chuck Schumer was in Syracuse Monday afternoon to launch a major push to immediately pass a $30 million funding increase for HUD Lead Hazard Removal Program.  

He also is urging Federal officials to approve Syracuse's application to the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program.

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