Updated 09/20/2012 10:54 PM
County grants help repair homes with lead
Although newer houses are built on a regular basis, the majority of homes in Onondaga County were built before 1978. People who live in them, especially if they have children, have to worry about lead poisoning. Fixing this could cost thousands of dollars, something not everyone can afford. Our Iris St. Meran tells us about a program in Onondaga County to help people pay to fix what could turn into a serious problem.
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Kori Sickles and her family moved into their home two years ago. She wanted it to be safe for her son, Nolan, who was seven-months-old at the time. One of the first things she did was check for lead.
Sickles said, "They tested all the walls inside. They tested outside. They tested for dust, lead dust, which you don't realize, and they did wind up finding lead outside the residence."
Lead isn't always easy to spot. Opening and closing doors and windows can create dust that is invisible. To remove it would have cost the Sickle and her husband $20,000, money they didn't have because she was a full-time student then. That wasn't a problem because the inspection and removal was done at no cost her because the county has grant money to repair these homes.
Onondaga County Public Health Educator Ann Barnett said, "This particular program with the lead is very good because it does take the lead out of the environment. People who would be eligible would be people who own an older home, prior to 1978. There has to be lead in the home."
There are also income requirements and a child under six-years-old must live there or visit often. Being exposed at that particular age, Barnett says, could have very damaging effects.
"Lead can attack organs and systems,” Barnett added. “The nervous system, the brain, kidneys. It can cause learning problems."
Now that, Sickles' son, Nolan, is old enough to run around, she's relieved that's not going to be a problem for him.
"It is such a weight off your shoulders to know that your family is safe and to know that your children are safe," said Sickles said.
Even if you don't qualify for the program, there are still some things you can do to reduce lead in your home. One of them is by simply cleaning out your window sill with a damp cloth.
Here are some other ways to reduce lead:
- Wash children's toys regularly to remove lead dust
- Remove shoes before entering the home
- Don't put a fan in windows
- Don't let children or animals play in dirt close to the foundation because it could contain lead
Thankfully, little Nolan does not have to worry about that. All agree, you can't put a price on that kind of peace of mind.
If you have questions or to see if you are eligible, can call Onondaga County Community Development. The number is (315) 435-3558, or visit www.ongov.net/cd.