Brush with Lead Poisoning: An example from Ohio City

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 09/19/2006 - 14:11.



Do you have ADHD... know anyone with ADHD? Could very well be from very low levels of  lead exposure as a child. Think about that as you read on. Out of concerns about the risk of lead poisoning for my newborn child, I moved my family to a "Shaker Certified" home in Shaker Heights, under the mistaken assumption Shaker Heights certified homes for good reasons - to protect residents. I found out they do not do anything to protect residents against lead poisoning... in fact, they cover up the whole problem there (Shaker's mayor's husband is the Partner in Charge of the Cleveland office of pro-lead-poisoning attorneys Jones Day, so no surprise there). I quickly realized our Shaker Certified home had lead issues, and the city and landlord couldn't have cared less. Knowing my family was unsafe in Shaker, there was no reason to pay 40% more for rent there, and we moved back to Ohio City, in Cleveland, which has the same lead poisoning risks as Shaker, but cares. Both have largely pre-1978 homes, which means either way my family lives surrounded by lead and I must be constantly on guard. When we moved to Ohio City we identified two lead hazards at our property and made the landlord aware they needed to be rectified... what I've learned since is that good property owners informed of lead hazards don't necessarily know how to clean them up, which is the cause of much of the lead crisis in NEO. Do you know what a lead hazard looks like on your property? Read on...



 The most obvious hazard was peeling paint on the window frames on the outside of our home. I tested the paint (with a testing stick bought at Home Depot for about $4) and it is lead-based, and it is chipping onto our front stairs, meaning we can track it into the home and my children can get it on their hands and toys and so mouths and blood - not to mention risk of them eating the chips outside. We keep the children away from these windows and pathways, and wipe our feet when we enter and leave our shoes by the door, and we asked the landlord to repaint these windows to trap the lead inside. Unfortunately, their handyman doesn't know about lead poisoning or how to deal with lead so he proceeded to scrape and sand the lead paint, spreading the lead much further than by nature - the photo above shows the chips that are now all over the sidewalk and stairs. What this means is we have a higher probability to track lead into our home, it can blow in, and other people walking by have exposure from our home... not to mention the lead now getting into the soil, and the water of Lake Erie, where children play, and the water system, contaminating the water supply. The painter should have used a drop cloth, captured all the lead chips and dust, and disposed of them properly off site... too late now... we'll vacuum up what we may.


The less obvious and perhaps greater lead risk was exposed dirt in the back yard. The property has a large fenced back yard that would be great for my kids to play in - plant a garden - perhaps get a dog and let it run free back there. But, there can be no doubt the soil in Ohio City contains high levels of lead - in the case of this property, there was also a garage that was removed, so the soil beneath that would contain other toxins spilled for a century on site. So we asked the landlord to encapsolate all that by adding a few inches of fresh soil and planting grass and ground cover. Instead, they brought in a rototiller and stirred up all the soil going down another 6 inches - really churning up 120 years of industrial waste and lead dust and spreading it into the wind, where it could blow in our home and get on every toy, door handles... everything everywhere for 100s of yards. Then, they mixed in fresh soil, which accomplished nothing. Then they seeded that. When the grass grows in fully, it will keep the soil from spreading as much dust but it will all still be toxic... no gardening here... no kids playing in the yard... no outdoor pets.



Such simple, common problems and mistakes uninformed people do every day around their homes and rental properties, which ruin children's lives for life.  If the Plain Dealer and other media sources promoted these issues, and solutions, on a regular basis - informed the people on NEO - there would be 1,000s fewer lead poisoned children here - fewer drop-outs - less crime and a stronger economy, They share in the blame for our region's failure... for what? Read more about the harm caused by such mistakes all throughout this book on lead poisoning, perhaps starting with an article on lead and ADHD.

Lead Dirt650.JPG118.98 KB
Lead Paint Window650.JPG69.33 KB
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