Lead Safety & Prevention | The City of Lakewood, Ohio

Lead Safety & Prevention


If your home was built before 1978, it is likely that lead-based paint is present. Many times the lead-based paint has been covered under layers of new paint and does not pose any risk to you or your family. However, when lead-based paint deteriorates it can become a hazard, especially to young children. Lead-based paint that is peeling, chipping, cracking or damaged can be ingested in the form of paint chips or microscopic dust. Young children are particularly at risk because their brains are still developing and their bodies absorb lead at a higher rate. Lead poisoning may lead to behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth and hearing problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has defined an Elevated Blood Level (EBL) as a level higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health provides multiple services to residents of Lakewood to prevent and address lead poisoning as well as educate home owners and renters. Due to the age of the housing stock in Lakewood, our zip code is a targeted community and it is recommended that children should have a lead test every year until they turn 6. Children on Medicaid, Healthy Families, and Healthy Start must be tested for lead at ages 1 and 2 years of age.

  • Lead Safety & Prevention FAQs+-

    What is lead poisoning?

    Lead poisoning is the most common chronic poisoning and environmental illness in the United States. Lead poisoning is the elevation of the lead in the body. It may cause damage to the brain and nervous system resulting in behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth and hearing problems. Even low levels of lead in the blood have been linked to lower IQ levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has defined an Elevated Blood Lead Level (EBL) as a level higher than 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL). In 2007, the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council adopted a local action level of 5 µg/dL.

    Where does lead come from?

    Even though lead paint is no longer used in homes, it can be found on many painted surfaces.  Most homes built before 1978 have some lead paint in them. Lead is most often found on windows, trim, doors, railings, columns, porches and the outside of older homes. When a painted surface starts to flake, crack or chip, it makes a dust. This dust may have lead in it. Lead dust will get onto the floors, window sills, in dirt and in other places too. Sometimes, a small amount of lead can also be found in drinking water.

    Where are lead hazards most often found in homes?

     The most common areas are window wells, porch floors, porch railings, and bare dirt.

    How does lead get inside a child’s body?

    The main way a child gets lead in their body is through hand to mouth behavior. Most children will play on the floor, porch or ground outside. When paint starts to wear down it makes a dust. The lead dust from the old paint gets onto their hands or toys. The children put their hands or toys in their mouths and swallow the lead dust that might be on their hands or toys. Children also can breathe in the lead dust when the old paint starts to flake, crack or chip. Some children may eat paint chips.

    How can I tell if my child has lead poisoning?

    Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick. The only way you will be able to tell if your child has lead poisoning is by a blood test.

    How do I know if my child should be tested for lead?

    Your child should be tested at least once a year until age 6 and children with special needs, especially those who put things into their mouths or have pica (eat things that are not food like paper, plastic or dirt) may need to be tested beyond age 6. Make sure your pediatrician is testing your child at their annual exam or call the Cuyahoga Board of Health at 216-201-2041 to schedule blood level testing.

    What steps can be taken to help prevent lead poisoning?

    One of the first lines of defense is good and frequent hand washing. When young children touch surfaces where lead dust is often found (windows and window sills, doors and door frames, railings and porches) and then place their hands in their mouths, they can ingest lead dust. Keeping paint in good shape and regularly damp mopping and dusting can minimize risks.

    Lead is also found in the soil, especially close to the house where it may have peeled or been scraped and not disposed of properly over the years. Avoid having bare soil. Plant grass and cover the area surrounding your home with mulch or other ground cover. Using doormats and/or taking shoes off at the door can prevent you from tracking lead contaminated soil into the house.

    Healthy foods can help lower lead levels. If your child is not getting enough healthy food, their body may take in more lead. Feed your child healthy foods rich in calcium, iron and Vitamin C.

    Use a HEPA vacuum to reduce lead dust in the home. The County Board of Health has a vacuum loan program. The HEPA vacuum can be borrowed for two weeks by calling 216-201-2001, ext. 1215.

    How can I get assistance with home repairs?

    Owners or renters in Lakewood with children 5 years of age or younger who qualify by income can receive up to $8,000 dollars in repairs to make the home lead safe. Call 216-201-2000, ext. 1527 to see if you qualify for repairs/replacements of windows, doors, and porches through the Lead Safe Cuyahoga program.

    Families who do not meet the income restrictions may be able to finance repairs via the Housing Enhancement Loan Program (HELP). Contact Planning & Development at 216-529-7681 for more information.

    It is important to use a certified contractor who has had lead abatement training. The city maintains a list that can be found at http://www.onelakewood.com/apply-register/registered-contractors/ or you can contact the Board of Health at 216-201-2001, ext. 1262.

    What must be done when buying, selling or renting a home?

    The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 was passed by Congress to protect families from exposure to lead. Before ratification of a contract for housing sale or lease, sellers and landlords must give an EPA approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards. Sellers and landlords must disclose and provide any records about lead-based paint in the home. Contracts and leases must include a Lead Warning Statement. Finally, sellers must provide homebuyers a 10 day period to conduct an inspection or risk assessment. Parties may mutually agree to lengthen or shorten this time and buyers may waive this inspection opportunity altogether.

    Links

    Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home – EPA approved info pamphlet

    https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-06/documents/pyf_bw_booklet_format_2017_508.pdf

    Lead Poisoning: Know Your Rights, Remedies & Resources – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

    https://lasclev.org/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-Lead-Poisoning-Know-Your-Rights-Remedies-and-Resources-1.pdf

    The Lead Disclosure Rule – HUD

    https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/healthy_homes/enforcement/disclosure

    Lead Poisoning Prevention – Cuyahoga County Board of Health

    http://www.ccbh.net/lead-poisoning/

  • What Residents Can Do To Prevent Lead Paint Exposure+-

    Simple steps to Protect Your Family from Lead Hazards:

    If you think your home has lead-based paint:

    • Don’t try to remove lead-based paint yourself.
    • Always keep painted surfaces in good condition to minimize deterioration.
    • Get your home checked for lead hazards. Find a certified inspector or risk assessor at epa.gov/lead.
    • Talk to your landlord about fixing surfaces with peeling or chipping paint.
    • Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces.
    • Take precautions to avoid exposure to lead dust when remodeling.
    • When renovating, repairing, or painting, hire only EPA- or state-approved Lead-Safe certified renovation firms.
    • Before buying, renting, or renovating your home, have it checked for lead-based paint.
    • Consult your health care provider about testing your children for lead. Your pediatrician can check for lead with a simple blood test.
    • Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys often.
    • Make sure children eat healthy, low-fat foods high in iron, calcium, and vitamin C.
    • Remove shoes or wipe soil off shoes before entering your house.

    Maintain Your Home’s Condition

    It is very important to care for the lead-painted surfaces in your home. Lead-based paint in good condition is usually not harmful.

    If your home was built before 1978:

    • Regularly check your home for chipping, peeling, or deteriorating paint, and address issues promptly without excessive sanding. If you must sand, sand the minimum area needed, wet the area first, and clean up thoroughly.
    • Regularly check all painted areas that rub together or get lots of wear, like windows, doors, and stairways, for any signs of deterioration.
    • Regularly check for paint chips or dust – if you see some, remove carefully with a damp paper towel and discard in the trash, then wipe the surface clean with a wet paper towel.
    • Wipe down flat surfaces, like window sills, at least weekly with a damp paper towel and throw away the paper towel.
    • Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) weekly to control dust.
    • Remember to test for the presence of lead and lead hazards by a lead professional – this will tell you where you must be especially careful.

    Here are more tips to help you reduce or prevent your family’s exposure to lead dust. It’s best to follow these steps weekly.

    Cleaning Uncarpeted Floors

    Do use:

    • Damp mopping, with standard sponge or string type mops and an all-purpose cleaner.
    • Standard vacuum cleaners if no visible dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint is present.

    Don’t use:

    • Mops with a scrubber strip attached.
    • Powered buffing or polishing machines, or vacuums with beater bars that may wear away the painted surface.

    Cleaning Carpets and Rugs

    Do use:

    • Wet scrubbing or steam cleaning methods to remove stains.
    • Standard vacuum cleaners if no visible dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint is present. Use only vacuums with HEPA filters otherwise.

    Don’t use:

    • Dry sweeping of surface dust and debris.
    • Shaking or beating of carpets and rugs.

    Cleaning or Dusting Walls and other Painted Surfaces

    Do use:

    • Soft, dampened, disposable cloths with an all-purpose cleaner.

    Don’t use:

    • Steel wool, scouring pads, and abrasive cleaners.
    • Solvent cleaners that may dissolve paint.
    • Excessive rubbing of spots to remove them.

    Additional Resources:

    Lead Poisoning Check Listhttps://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/parent_checklist3.pdf

    Protect your Family from Exposure to Lead https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead#sl-home

  • What Landlords Can Do To Prevent Lead Paint Exposure+-

    Lead Inspections and Risk Assessments

    To more accurately determine the amount of lead paint and related lead hazards in your home, consider having a lead inspection. If the question is not whether you have lead paint, but whether the paint is a hazard and what to do about it, then you may want to consider a risk assessment. You can search for licensed inspectors and risk assessors in your area through the Ohio Department of Health (see Search Lead Data Base and Lists.) If your household doesn’t have the resources or if you have a landlord who isn’t willing to help, find out if your community provides funding for inspections and lead hazard control. See OHHN’s Directory of Lead, Home Repair and Healthy Housing Resources  for more information.

    Booklet on Renovating and Lead Paint Safety by EPA

    Lead Poisoning Check Listhttps://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/parent_checklist3.pdf

    Maintain Your Home’s Condition

    It is very important to care for the lead-painted surfaces in your home. Lead-based paint in good condition is usually not harmful.

    If your home was built before 1978:

    • Regularly check your home for chipping, peeling, or deteriorating paint, and address issues promptly without excessive sanding. If you must sand, sand the minimum area needed, wet the area first, and clean up thoroughly.
    • Regularly check all painted areas that rub together or get lots of wear, like windows, doors, and stairways, for any signs of deterioration.
    • Regularly check for paint chips or dust – if you see some, remove carefully with a damp paper towel and discard in the trash, then wipe the surface clean with a wet paper towel.
    • Wipe down flat surfaces, like window sills, at least weekly with a damp paper towel and throw away the paper towel.
    • Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) weekly to control dust.
    • Remember to test for the presence of lead and lead hazards by a lead professional – this will tell you where you must be especially careful.

    Here are more tips to help you reduce or prevent your family’s exposure to lead dust. It’s best to follow these steps weekly.

    Cleaning Uncarpeted Floors

    Do use:

    • Damp mopping, with standard sponge or string type mops and an all-purpose cleaner.
    • Standard vacuum cleaners if no visible dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint is present.

    Don’t use:

    • Mops with a scrubber strip attached.
    • Powered buffing or polishing machines, or vacuums with beater bars that may wear away the painted surface.

    Cleaning Carpets and Rugs

    Do use:

    • Wet scrubbing or steam cleaning methods to remove stains.
    • Standard vacuum cleaners if no visible dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint is present. Use only vacuums with HEPA filters otherwise.

    Don’t use:

    • Dry sweeping of surface dust and debris.
    • Shaking or beating of carpets and rugs.

    Cleaning or Dusting Walls and other Painted Surfaces

    Do use:

    • Soft, dampened, disposable cloths with an all-purpose cleaner.

    Don’t use:

    • Steel wool, scouring pads, and abrasive cleaners.
    • Solvent cleaners that may dissolve paint.
    • Excessive rubbing of spots to remove them.
  • Lead Water Safety+-

    Click here for information about lead water safety.