The number of Monroe County children with elevated levels of lead in their blood continues to decrease, according to data released today by the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning.
In 2014, more than 14,500 local children under age 6 received lead screenings, and 609 were found to have elevated levels, according to the data tracked by the Monroe County Health Department. More children were tested last year than were tested a decade ago. In 2004, when the county used a weaker threshold to identify child lead-poisoning cases, 13,746 kids were tested and 900 had elevated levels.
The coalition released the figures during a press conference this afternoon at the city's Northeast Neighborhood Service Center on Norton Street. At the event, City Council President Loretta Scott emphasized that parents still need to get their children screened for lead at ages 1 and 2. She also touted the success of the city's 2005 lead ordinance, which requires landlords to periodically have their units inspected for lead and to have them fixed up if contamination is detected. Since 2005, the city has conducted 73,000 inspections, she said.
Recently, the city's Neighborhood Service Centers distributed about 200 doormats to parents. While the idea may seem irrelevant to lead exposure, it's not. Earlier this year, a local study found that porches on older city houses pose a significant lead threat. because many of them hold flaking lead paint. Children can be exposed to lead dust when they play on the porches, or the dust can be tracked inside. Doormats help prevent the latter.
But child lead exposure isn't just a city issue. Older houses in the suburbs, particularly in villages, may also contain lead paint.