CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Statistics show nearly half of Ohio children with lead poisoning live in Cuyahoga County.
The dangerous and potentially deadly illness is completely preventable, and now that prevention is becoming law.
This week, Cleveland city leaders passed a law requiring landlords to test for lead in their rental homes, among other regulations.
“When a child tests positive for lead, there’s a potential they may have health problems. There’s a potential that they will have cognitive disorders and often times, it leads to other social determinants that we deal with as a society,” stated Cleveland Councilman Blaine Griffin.
Since 2015, Ohio Department of Health records show 4,500 children have been poisoned by lead. Those numbers, however, could be higher because many children aren’t tested for lead.
One reason for the high numbers could be old homes with lead-based paint. Many Clevelanders rent those homes.
A new lead poisoning prevention law is starting with landlords.
“We didn’t want to make this voluntary. We wanted to make this mandatory. We wanted to legislate this, codify this,” Griffin said.
Most of the new laws will go into effect starting in spring 2021 and include requiring landlords to pay for private inspections and have lead-safe certificates. If they don’t comply, the city can issue tickets, fines, and even charge a landlord with a misdemeanor.
“So landlords and everybody else will know that this is the culture of Cleveland. You’re going to make sure that you do this for our community,” said Griffin.
The city will also help landlords who don’t make a lot of money.
Two million dollars over two years was given to Cleveland to help landlords with things like being able to afford lead testing.
Cuyahoga County has a list of homes that are considered “lead safe.” You can click here to find out more.
Researchers also discovered that despite Medicaid rules that mandate testing at ages 1 and 2, only half of children on Medicaid in Cuyahoga County were tested at age 1 and only 34% were tested at age 2.
You can contact your local health department to schedule an appointment for lead testing.