City of Shaker Heights ignoring the risk of lead poisoning to children

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Sun, 05/21/2006 - 12:40.

My son celebrated his first birthday recently. Like most healthy, inquisitive one year olds he is into everything. Keeping him safe during this exciting stage of development is a challenge. Besides plugging up the electrical outlets, putting up baby gates and securing poisonous cleaning products, I decided to have our home tested for lead. We live in a Shaker Heights double built in 1926 – so its very likely that it was painted with lead paint at some point. Overall the house is in good repair, but there is pealing paint on the porch door in his bedroom, some of the window wells have paint dust and there is peeling paint in the garage. We also have some painted antique furniture that I am concerned about.

I have heard that you can get a free lead inspection from the county, so I decided to do some research. When I visited the Cuyahoga County Board of Health website I found out that you can receive a free lead inspection if your child was tested for lead and has a blood level greater than 20 ug/dl or upon a written request from the child's doctor. So basically if your child if severely, irreversibly damaged by lead you can confirm that the lead poisoning happened in your home. The CCBH site did not seem to offer much help in preventing lead poisoning. They seem to be focused only on identifying the causes after the poisoning occurs.

Next I visited the city of Shake Heights website. My home is a “Certified Shaker” rental property. Something the city and my landlord are proud to promote. But what exactly does “Certified Shaker” mean? I talked to someone in the Housing Inspection Department, and said I was concerned about lead in my home and asked how I could go about getting the property inspected. I was informed that “Certified Shaker” homes are not inspected for lead. Shaker Heights does not do lead inspections. If I want my home inspected for lead I must find a private contract “in the phone book” and arrange to have it tested myself. Shaker Heights probably has more historic homes than any other suburb. I would guess most structures are pre-1970. Shaker Heights also promotes itself as a great place for families with the Shaker Family Center, excellent libraries and some of the best day care in the region, but does the health section of their website have any information about the dangers of lead poisoning? I could n't believe this. Surely lead poisoning is a more real danger to children living in Shaker Heights than West Nile Virus and Meningitis – diseases that did receive attention on the website.

Now that I know that the City of Shaker Heights is so negligent in warning and protecting its residents from lead poisoning I need to find out why. 

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Check Lead laws in Boston


I think that in Massachusetts there is state legislation which requires that any landlord who rents to families with children must de-lead the residence and have it tested for conformance by a state licensed lead testing outfit.    If the landlord rents to a family with children and does not conform with the legislation, the landlord is subject to serious fines (and maybe imprisonment).


One negative result of this legislation is that some landlords make the decision to never rent to families with children. 


 If I get a minute I will Google all this or someone else can.  If you can locate a model pc. of legislation from another more proactive town or state, it would be fairly straight forward to have it enacted by Shaker.

A model for Shaker to copy

A great suggestion! I will do some research in the next few days and try to find a model to propose for Shaker.

propose it to the first suburbs consortium

You might want to think about bringing this to the council of mayors, too.

and Cleveland Heights Home Repair Resource -- a CH nonprofit.

Please do research this and make suggestions

There are lots of people involved with lead eradication here who are looking for best practices of any kind - the more people who look out across the world at how this problem is being solved anywhere the better - please keep the ideas flowing