Saturday, Oct 21, 2017
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Take lead fight to state level

Toledo is not alone in dealing with the threat of lead poisoning. Most of Ohio has older housing stock that presents the risk of children ingesting lead. As other communities around the state begin to take on the issue, many poor children across Ohio will get a better chance at health.

Columbus authorities have seized on the lead issue and are pursuing landlords who failed to clean up contamination in rental properties where children tested positive for lead poisoning.

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Lead-Warning

While Toledo has its own problems with lead in homes, Columbus has problems as well. Both cities are pursuing landlords who fail to clean up rental properties where children tested positive for lead poisoning.

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An Ohio Department of Health report revealed in May that 540 properties across the state should be vacated because of lead contamination. Columbus had more properties on the list than any other community — 51. Now, prosecutors there plan to sue as many as 60 landlords who have ignored city orders to remove hazardous lead paint from their properties.

Toledo authorities have announced they’ll pursue criminal charges against three such landlords.

Columbus city officials also are reportedly interested in adopting a lead-safe ordinance similar to the measure Toledo City Council approved in April. It requires residential rental properties with up to four units built before 1978 and day care centers to be certified “lead-safe” in order to rent to tenants. Evidence shows most of the lead-poisoning cases among Toledo children are linked to such properties.

Property owners who don’t comply can be fined $50 a day, up to $10,000.

Some critics contend lead-related regulations should be managed by the state health department so they can be uniform across the state.

That sounds like a solid idea, except the ODH does not have lead regulations that measure up to Toledo’s ordinance, which is the only one of its kind in the state right now. The ODH should use it as a model and seek to put it in place statewide.

In a wise move this week, the state Senate removed a state House budget amendment that would have prevented Toledo from enforcing its lead-safe ordinance.

If Columbus follows suit with an ordinance similar to Toledo’s, vulnerable children in the state’s largest city will benefit from its protection against lead contamination. A second city joining the effort to manage the threat from lead contamination also should help spur Ohio officials into taking up the cause statewide. It’s time.

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