GCLAC meeting offers illuminating insights on Lead Safe Living

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Wed, 07/16/2008 - 12:21.

The lastest GCLAC Lead Safe Living meeting this past Monday, July 14, at the Lutheran Ministries building on the west side was an informative and particularly timely session, given the imminent arrival of Ohio Lead Awareness Week, July 21-25.  Events have been planned in conjunction with this statewide effort by various collaborators comprising the GCLAC to offer important educational and testing services.  All children 6 and under will receive free lead screenings throughout the week and a special press conference, featuring Mayor Eric Brewer of East Cleveland, (among others) will kick things off.

GCLAC has impressed me over the years as an exercise in effective collaboration.  Structured as a committee of commitees focused and driven by community health outcomes, one can feel the level of genuine concern and appreciate the professionalism and skill of its members and leaders.  The meeting was chaired and facilitated by Matt Carroll of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, who kicked things off by inviting participants to introduce themselves.  I was struck by the sheer number of diverse groups represented which included the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Environmental Health Watch, Invest in Children, Office of Dennis Kucinich, Cleveland Tenants Organization, CWRU Faculty, CCOAL, HUD, ACORN and many more.

Some key contributions and sharings from key participant subcommittees:

The Sustainability and Infrastructure commitee, of which Norm Roulet is a co-chair, shared their outreach and community building / relationship building efforts and recent work to inventory community resources as well as partnership efforts with Outreach and Advocacy. Technology needs like smart database design were raised.  The Housing Committee reported on recent efforts to educate and engage landlords and tenants regarding lead, and shared a new idea to combine lead hazard control and healthy house funds for the establishment of an innovative foreclosure prevention program.  Key partners cited include the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority and Policy Matters Ohio, who contributed a key study on low income housing.  The Medical commitee shared key information on the reduction of testing threshold from 10 ug / dl down to  5 ug/dl, a barrier surpassed by thousands of Cleveland area children.  MetroHealth hospital and Rainbow Babies and Children will offer West and East Side testing centers respectively and incorporate the new standards and thresholds.  I was fascinated by the discussion regarding nutrition's critical role in remediation and profoundly impacted by the relationship between lead poisoning and calicum and iron intake - deficiencies in the latter elements common to underprivileged communities severely exacerbate lead uptake and damage due to exposure.  The Workforce Development commitee shared news of a new training program for which 10K in funding has been designated - an amount likely to fund 3-4 new apprenticeships in lead abatement within a 13 month timeframe.   The 10K in funding will focus on training existing contractors for lead specializations and these recoverable grants are available til December 7th.

The Cleveland Police are a key partner in the PAL pilot program to create viable vocations for former gang members aged 18-24.  An RFP will be soon issued to bring the resources to bear to enable effective outcomes for the program.  The Education committee shared recent formative moves to concretize mission and objective to provide early childhood opportunity, raise educational system awareness, compile key resources and assess current practices, and develop targeted programming which counters cognitive impairment.  A key study conducted by the Great Lakes Environmental Finance Center identified key mechanisms to finance and fund lead remediation, including dedicated funding, tax credits, and collaborative leverage to name a few.   Information was gathered from 6 programs nationwide via telephone surveys to complete the study, which will be used to model appropriate funding for local efforts.

Discussion of the imminent Lead Awareness Week punctuated the fact that free lead testing would be offered at a number of sites per the following schedule:


  • Monday July 21 4:30-7:30 p.m. Michael Zone 6301 Lorain Rd.
  • Tuesday July 22 4:30-7:30 p.m. Central 2526 Central Ave.
  • Wednesday July 23 4:30-7:30 p.m. Glenville 680 E. 113th St.
  • Thursday July 24 4:00-7:00 p.m. E. C. MLK 14801 Shaw Ave.
  • Friday July 25 4:30-7:30 p.m. JFK 17300 Harvard Ave.

      This valuable and important service will be broadcast through various media channels, most notably ClearChannel and Radio One broadcasts.  It is imperative that we strive to maximize the testing population to provide the richest demographic data possible and help optimize outcomes in terms of lead remediation.

    This Lead Directory provides a valuable resource and insight into the many organizations collaborating toward a critical cause.