Greater Cleveland has a lead poisoning problem and it’s threatening our youngest residents. Approximately 15% of children ages six and younger in Greater Cleveland have tested positive for elevated blood lead levels. In some areas, more than one in four children tested have lead poisoning.
Children living in low-income urban areas, where old housing units are deteriorating and residents – many of whom are renters – aren’t equipped to remediate the homes of lead themselves, are especially at risk. At least 500,000 housing units in Cuyahoga County have been identified as at-risk of potentially poisoning a child. So far, less than 1% of these homes have been remediated using federal grant money.
Lead poisoned children have poorer health, educational and social outcomes in life. It can affect a child’s brain development – dropping their IQ and leading to behavioral problems such as a shortened attention span, antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment. These effects are irreversible and can last an entire lifetime.
The good news? In Greater University Circle, community partners are working hard to address the lead problem. In recent years we helped to launch the Greater University Circle Community Health Initiative (GUCCHI), a partnership between Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Promoting Health Across Boundaries (PHAB), Neighborhood Connections, the County Board of Health, the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Greater University Circle residents to work collectively to improve the health of underserved neighborhoods in the district. Lead poisoning is one of GUCCHI’s priority health issues.
GUCCHI is confronting the problem from a number of angles, and building community awareness around the issue has been an important first step. Since the launch of a pilot lead action program in the Glenville neighborhood last year, advocates have reached more than 3,500 residents by knocking on doors, hosting lead awareness parties, and distributing information and at community events.
This Saturday, GUCCHI partners are offering free lead screenings for children ages 6 and under in Glenville. The event will also offer information for renters, a raffle for special vacuums that safely clean lead dust, and free food. Make plans to attend, or simply spread the word!
Free lead testing for kids (a parent or guardian must be present for child to be tested)
Saturday, Sept. 23
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
1446 E. 105th St. at Ashbury Ave
More information is available here.