Monroe Officials Say Childhood Lead Poisoning Down 85%

Rochester, NY – The community is making progress in the battle against childhood lead poisoning -- according to a report released Monday by Monroe County officials.

County Executive Maggie Brooks says there's been an 85 percent reduction in the number of lead poisoned children in the county over the past 11 years. The number of lead poisoned children has been reduced from over 37-hundred in 1995 to 571 last year. She credits a number of groups working together for the decrease.

But Brooks adds there is plenty of work still to do.

To further address the problem, the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning will expand its efforts to include follow-up testing of children again at age 2. A new campaign will tell parents how they can get their children tested.

In addition, a new 3-million dollar grant from HUD will help eligible property owners make their homes lead-safe.

Brooks says the HUD funding will enable the county to make 370 housing units lead free.

Childhood lead poisoning mostly comes from lead-based paint used in older housing before it was banned in the 1970s. As the paint ages in produces lead dust. Children ingest it and can suffer symptoms ranging from behavioral problems to learning disabilities.

The Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning's goal is to end childhood lead poisoning in Rochester by 2010.

The campaign from the Coalition will include posters, bus ads, and letters to pediatricians.

Coalition Executive Director Derrick Hazle says that enhanced testing will help in the effort. He says they've tested about 8-thousand children at age one, but only around 5-thousand two-year olds. He says that's the age when children are more susceptible to lead poisoning.