June 11, 2012

Lead Hazards Surveyed In ‘March To the Middle’

News Photo

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente said today that more than 400 inner city houses have been surveyed by the Oneida County Health Department’s Lead Primary Prevention program for chipped and peeling paint since May of this year as part of its March to the Middle program.

Picente said the LPP team conducts visual inspections of housing exterior conditions, noting chipping and peeling paint, and then notifies home owners if their property is found to be in non-compliance with New York State Property Maintenance Codes and Public Health Laws requiring ‘conditions conducive to lead poisoning, such as chipping paint, to be eliminated.’

“The Lead Primary Prevention program has inspected more than 1500 housing units since 2009 and has worked with owners to make the necessary repairs to bring them into compliance; and this years March to the Middle initiative will address hundreds more.  This program is yet another tool in our lead primary prevention toolkit to educate residents about the hazards of lead-based paints and reduce our children’s exposure to lead,” Picente said. 

This year’s efforts began on Pleasant Street and will continue toward the center of Cornhill which is designated as ‘high risk  for lead poisoning’ but has seen a growth in population of 12% over the past decade due in large part to the 500-600 new refugees who resettle in Utica each year.  Most of the housing in this area was built before 1940 and contains lead paint.  The soil around the exterior of the houses is highly contaminated with lead due to past unsafe work practices like dry sanding and scraping which left considerable amounts of lead in the layers of top soil. The lead can then be tracked indoors contributing to overall lead contamination of the home. The Lead Primary Prevention program is a part of the New York State Department of Health’s effort to meet the increasing demand for safe and healthy housing in Utica.

Dr. Gayle D. Jones, Director of Health reminded residents that children under six years are at greatest risk for lead poisoning and despite the LPP’s successes over the past several years Utica’s Cornhill and West Utica neighborhoods have the highest prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in the State, outside of New York City.

“We need a continuing team effort between the Lead Primary Prevention program and property owners to properly maintain the exterior of their homes in order to reduce the lead-based paint soil contamination that can be tracked into the house; landlords need to reduce interior lead dust levels by using a HEPA vacuum, replacing older windows and maintaining painted surfaces; tenants should wet clean their window sills and floors frequently to help keep lead dust levels low; and we remind all healthcare providers to test children for lead at age one and again at age two,” Jones said.

For more information on reducing lead poisoning hazards visit our web site at ocgov.net/oneida/health.

Oneida County Partners