More than 500 homes in Ohio listed as hazardous because of lead

This instant lead test found positive results for lead in Michelle's home. (Source: WOIO)
This instant lead test found positive results for lead in Michelle's home. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Lead poisoning carries serious health risks and can be fatally toxic.

The Ohio Department of Health just published a list of 540 hazardous homes that should be vacated due to lead. It's the last step to get property owners to clean up the houses and get rid of the poison lurking inside.

So why are some people still living in homes that have been ordered vacated by the Ohio Department of Health? Cleveland 19 found some renters didn't know about the risks until after they moved in.

Cleveland 19 knocked on the door of some houses on the list on the west side of Cleveland. Michelle Roberts answered the door at her house on W. 88th Street and said she knew the house was a hazardous home.

She has been renting the house since November, and says the owner told her there was lead inside after she moved in.

"It's bull****, excuse my French, and I got kids here," she said.

Roberts has four kids, ages 11 to 14, and she's a single mom trying to make ends meet.

"There's been sickness here," she said. "Coughing, sneezing."

Cleveland 19 did an instant lead test on the wall near Michelle's windows with 3M LeadCheck swabs (found at a home repair store for about $10 in the paint section). After rubbing the swab on the wall near a window for 30 seconds, the yellow mark made by the swab turned pink, meaning lead was present.

Roberts wasn't surprised. She says the owner said lead was found in the stained glass windows at the front of the house.

"See my church windows? I love my windows, but they sick," she said.

Cleveland 19 checked a few other houses on the list on the west side of Cleveland. One on W. 103rd Street was occupied, according to neighbors, but it was under construction. No one was home, so Cleveland 19 wasn't able to ask if they knew about the lead found inside.

Another house on the list on W. 98th Street was for sale and no one came to the door.

Back at Roberts' house, getting help from the landlord hasn't been easy -- the house went into foreclosure and has a new owner. Roberts says they also have black mold, the ceiling's caving in and the front steps are falling apart.

"It's horrible, horrible times. You just got stay focused, faith, all of the above," she said.

Lead-based paint was widely used in older homes like hers, but it was banned by the government in the 1970s. Find out how you can protect your family from lead by visiting this EPA website. You can also read more about the dangers of lead paint in your home here.

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.