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County Program Urges Residents to 'Get the Lead Out'

By Submitted Report
The Tube City Almanac
August 02, 2017
Posted in: Announcements

Mon-Yough area residents --- especially those who care for small children and who live in homes or apartments built before 1978 --- are being encouraged to get their homes inspected for lead paint hazards under a free program being offered by ACTION-Housing.

Lu Ethel Nesbit, who administers ACTION's McKeesport Weatherization office, said the Lead-Safe Homes program will help up to 175 families in Allegheny County identify and cope with lead paint hazards in their homes.

For more information, call (412) 227-5700; visit the program website; or email alleghenylead@actionhousing.org. This program is only dealing with lead paint, not with lead-based plumbing fixtures, according to ACTION-Housing.

Lead was commonly used as a pigment in residential paints. Although lead paint has been banned for residential use since 1978, more than 90 percent of the houses in McKeesport were built before that ban took effect, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The program is open to households with a child under age 6 who either lives on the property or spends a significant amount of time on the property; and to households where one of the residents is pregnant. Income and eligibility restrictions also apply.

According to the Minnesota-based Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, memory loss, anemia, mysterious aches and pains, and other health problems.

Small children are particularly vulnerable because they may chew on banisters or other household items painted with lead-based paint. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 percent of children ages 1 to 5 have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood; African-American children are about three times as likely to have high levels of lead in their blood.

Adults can also be susceptible, especially if they begin a home remodeling project that requires grinding, drilling or sanding down lead paint, releasing lead dust into the air.

The dust is often invisible to the naked eye, according to ACTION-Housing.

The program will test homes for lead paint exposure. If hazards are found, a state-certified lead abatement contractor will be provided to repair or repaint hazardous surfaces, including windows, trim and doors, if necessary.

Both renters and people who own their own homes may apply for the program, but renters must also get their landlord to complete an application, ACTION-Housing said.

Priority will be given to households where a child is suffering from elevated levels of lead in their blood, the agency said.

An ACTION-Housing spokesperson said that homeowners or renters who are concerned about lead paint exposure can take several simple steps, including:

  • Ask your child's doctor or pediatrician about a blood test for lead levels;
  • Wash your child's hands and face often, especially before they eat;
  • Use a damp mop or rag, instead of a broom, to sweep up dust;
  • Feed children a diet high in iron (foods such as meat, beans, spinach) and calcium (milk, yogurt, green vegetables); and
  • Keep children away from areas with chipping and peeling paint.

The Allegheny Lead-Safe Homes program is being funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Lead Hazard Control & Healthy Homes, and is a partnership between Allegheny County Economic Development, ACTION-Housing, the Allegheny County Health Department and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.

(Photo by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube, via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.)

Originally published August 02, 2017.

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