Lead Safe Roanoke strives to remove lead paint exposure in small children

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(Photo: Courtesy MGN)

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A Roanoke family is one step closer to having a lead-free home, which is especially important for the five-year-old that lives there.

Contractors began removing the lead dangers in their 1916-built house, which entails conducting wet scrapes on lead-based walls and trims, repainting and replacing 41 windows to remove the lead exposure risk.

Children exposed to lead can have seriously harmful effects on their health, including cause brain damage, decreased muscle and bone growth, lower IQ, kidney damage, and even death, according to health officials.

The family made up of a father, a 10-year old, and a toddler, are recipients of a program called Lead Safe Roanoke, a Hud-funded program that strives to reduce lead poisoning of children age five and under by identifying and controlling lead-paint based hazards.

Prior to the work, a lead risk assessor tested each painted surface in the house and created an action plan to reduce the exposure to lead in the home.

According to the project, most lead hazards come from paint built-in homes before 1978, when the paint is peeling or chipping.

Exposure to lead is especially high in Roanoke because over 90 percent of the homes are built before 1978, Kennedy said.

Lead was used in paint due to its durability especially in the outdoors, but in 1978 it was banned as the dangers of it became known, said Katie Kennedy, program manager.

She also added that small children are more susceptible to lead exposure via chipping paint because they may be crawling on the floor and put a chip in their mouth, which is known to be sweet.

Children can also be exposed to lead through the soil if it’s contaminated by lead paint, by the air containing dust from sanding, scraping from the removal of lead-based paint, and water from contact with contaminated lead pipes, according to its website.

The program is always accepting applications for this free program. To qualify, applicants must meet certain criteria including being a Roanoke resident, reside in a home built before 1978, have a child five years old or younger or be a pregnant woman in the home, and meet the income guidelines.

To learn about the application process, call (540) 853-5682 or click here.

Kennedy said over the last two years in the current grant cycle, contractors have removed lead dangers in 54 homes. Over 400 homes have benefited from the program in the last 15 years.

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