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October 9, 2019 - 11:01am

Health Department waiting on guidelines for $1.3 million lead hazard reduction program

posted by Howard B. Owens in child lead poisoning, health department, news, batavia.

County health officials are still waiting on details from the federal government on a $1.3 million grant awarded to Genesee County and Orleans County for lead-hazard abatement and reduction in older homes.

At a meeting of the Human Services Committee last week, Paul Pettit, director of the health departments in both counties, said the first he learned that the counties had received the grant was by reading about it in The Batavian.

Since then, he's received a phone call confirming the grant but formal guidelines have not yet been delivered to his office.

"This is a significant amount of funding to come into Genesee County and to Orleans County and it would really help us to help those who don't have the means and the funds potentially to fix the problem," Pettit said in an interview last week.

Pettit's office applied for the grant over the summer.

The grant will enable the health departments to identify housing stock with potential lead hazards and make available grant money to the property owners to remediate the hazard.

"This funding is very important because what it does is, it allows, number one, a potential partnership with the homeowners or rental landlords to be able to fix a problem before a child gets poisoned and have funding available to remediate those homes prior to the poisoning occurring," Pettit said. "So when you look at it from a primary prevention standpoint, that's what we want to do. We want to try to prevent a child from getting poisoned in the first place."

The grants will be available to both homeowners and landlords of residences built prior to 1978 in three of the four census tracks in the City of Batavia and one census track in Albion.

Until the guidelines are in place, Pettit said it's not possible to provide details on how properties will be identified, inspected and what the criteria will be for providing assistance to property owners.

"We're gonna have to stand this program up fairly quickly when we get the formal announcement of the funding," Pettit said.

Health department staff has recently been through training for lead risk-assessment certification, Pettit told the Human Services Committee.

He also told the committee there is legislation pending in Albany that would require landlords with housing built prior to 1978 to receive annual lead-safe certification for their units, unless they made the property lead free, which would mean doing likes like removing trim, replacing windows, installing siding on the outside of the building.

"We do not want to see any child poisoned from lead exposure," Pettit said. "It can lead to developmental delays and other health impacts that could affect them over their entire lives. It's very important to identify and find these hazards early and then protect the children so they're not getting lead poisoning."

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