The state’s health department has created a list of homes that have serious lead paint problems, but health advocates say the registry represents just a sliver of the state’s hazardous properties.
The database includes homes and apartments that have been ordered vacated after their owners refused to clean up the lead paint. Those sites are where children who had lived in the homes tested positive for high lead levels.
There are about 520 properties listed. While there’s at least one in every county, the most are in Ohio’s biggest cities and neighborhoods with older houses containing lead paint, which was outlawed in the late 1970s.
Children who ingest lead after their fingers touch contaminated dust and paint chips can suffer from lead poisoning, which has been tied to permanent damage to children’s brains along with lowered intelligence, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
Ohio’s health regulators say creating the registry will give renters and home buyers more information about lead hazards. They also hope that rental assistance organizations will refer to the list to make sure they aren’t helping place someone in a house that’s been deemed a safety hazard.
The Ohio Healthy Homes Network’s project coordinator, Patricia Barnes, said on Monday the registry falls short of having an accurate accounting of homes with known lead risks by not including sites where investigations were started but not completed. She pointed to Cleveland, which has 24 homes on the state registry.
“There should probably be hundreds of more properties on that list,” she said. “We need more full disclosure.”
The release of the registry comes when state lawmakers are considering a proposal that would take away cities’ ability to have their own rules addressing lead paint threats.
The change, which will be considered as an amendment in the new two-year state budget, would give the Ohio Department of Health authority over lead abatement and stop cities from creating their own programs.
Toledo last year approved requiring lead inspections of rental properties and repairs if problems are found. Cleveland also has looked at its own inspection rules.
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