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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Reducing childhood lead hazard exposure through community coalition building and enhanced regulatory enforcement

Patricia M. Sweeney, JD, MPH, RN, Graduate School of Public Health, Center for Public Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh, 3109 Forbes Ave. # 210, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, 412-383-2231, sweeneyp@edc.pitt.edu and Matthew A. Stefanak, MPH, Health Commissioner, Mahoning County District Board of Health, 50 Westchester Drive, Youngstown, OH 44515.

Lead exposure is the number one cause of preventable morbidity in young children in the United States. Consequences of lead exposure include learning and behavioral disorders, school failure, reduced growth, cerebral edema, seizures, coma and death. In the past there have been concerted efforts to prevent childhood lead exposure through legislatively mandated disclosure of lead hazards and a significant investment of public funds for the identification and remediation of lead hazards in children’s homes. Nevertheless, families with young children today still reside in homes with documented unremediated lead hazards, and their children suffer preventable physical and emotional harm as a result. In Ohio, local boards of health are authorized to create regulations to enforce standards for lead safe housing. Health officials are authorized to order remediation of lead hazards when a child has been poisoned. However, in Mahoning County, enforcement of such regulations has historically been impeded by opposition from rental property owners and a lack of local government resources committed to seek enforcement through municipal courts. Enforcement of regulatory violations has been almost non-existent; and as a consequence, property owners have had no incentive to remediate lead hazards or to provide lead-hazard warnings to prospective tenants with young children. This paper discusses how the legal community, public health officials and educators in Youngstown, and Mahoning County, Ohio exposed this impasse, changed the political will, and brought community stakeholders together to end the injustice of childhood lead exposure.

Learning Objectives:

  • After attending this presentation participants will be able to

    Keywords: Lead, Regulations

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA