In recent years, Oneida County has had one of the highest levels of childhood lead poisoning in New York State and Herkimer County levels are double the state average. Experts say children can be exposed to lead through a variety of sources, including contaminated soil or water; imported toys, pottery or cosmetics; and household paint manufactured before 1978. Long-term lead exposure can result in developmental delays, learning difficulties, and behavior issues, with lifelong health and financial consequences. Several local, state and federal programs are addressing the issue, but an opportunity exists to coordinate efforts to achieve greater outcomes and prevent duplicative services.
The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties is serving as the backbone organization for the Lead-Free Mohawk Valley Coalition, a collective impact initiative, which consists of more than 100 individuals from over 40 organizations.
The Coalition includes representatives from public health, government, legal, insurance, healthcare, education, childcare, housing, construction and support services constituencies. The group meets often and focuses on the reduction of lead and environmental health hazards in pre-1978 housing, as well as expanding testing and community awareness of the problem. Efforts range from direct outreach to strengthening legislation.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
The City of Utica Lead Safe Utica Grant can help address lead and home health hazards in 180 housing units for low income families.
To qualify for assistance, eligible families must live in Utica, have a home built prior to 1978, have a child under age 6 spending significant time in the home, and must meet income guidelines.
For more information about how to apply, contact the HomeOwnershipCenter at (315) 724-4197 or go to www.LeadSafeUtica.com
New York State has lowered the action level indicating when a child has been poisoned to match the federal standard, ensuring more children will be identified earlier.
To learn if your child is at risk, take the
Contact your healthcare provider or the Oneida County Health Department to schedule a blood lead level screening.
The Statewide Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 has taken effect to protect tenants from unlawful eviction, including retaliation from lead being identified in a rental housing unit.
Learn more at Legal Services of Central New York at www.lscny.org/legal-services/home-conditions-safety/ or call 877-777-6152.