SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – As of Oct. 25, the national observance of Lead Prevention Week was put into writing and action by Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. It will be annually celebrated Oct. 23 through Oct. 29. Code Enforcement Officer Keenan Lewis is excited and proud of the step the city took Tuesday, but the time to truly celebrate comes with the action they take next.
“We’ve got a nice Proclamation there, so we are going to hang that there,” said Lewis. “We are just, the way for us to celebrate is to get in these homes, right.”
Now, the proclamation that was made is step one for the city and its prevention of lead poisoning. There is still plenty of action to be taken. While lead poison in children is a primary concern, the city is going to focus first on preventing future issues by going into homes and looking at things like the peeling paint.
“They can also be complaint generated so if someone is seeing peeling and chipping paint in their own home or paint dust, they can call Code Enforcement and ask for that lead inspection in their rental home,” said Fair.
South Branch Leader Oceanna Fair, from Families for Lead Freedom Now, wants to keep the momentum going by seeing more action where they know lead is an issue.
“We know exactly where the lead is, and I would like to see a high concentration of enforcement in those areas,” said Fair. “Making sure that we are making contact with those families and making sure we are making contact with those landlords to correct the problem.”
Older homes are the areas that tend to be impacted and frequently they have residents of color. According to the Onondaga County Health Department, only 1.8% of the roughly 10% of children with increased levels of lead poisoning in Onondaga County are white. In 2021, there were 437 children that were found to have elevated blood led levels, according to the county. And 396 of those children in Onondaga County were in Syracuse.