OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Cattaraugus and Allegany health departments are set to receive federal help in combatting hazards posed by lead-based paint.
Thursday morning, a representative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will present a $2.5 million grant at Operation Warm Hearts in Olean. Its purpose is to help the counties develop the needed infrastructure for identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards in homes.
“We are thrilled to be recipients of the Lead Capacity Building Grant because we have such a high need in both of our counties,” Melissa Chamberlain, a registered nurse at the Cattaraugus County Health Department, said. “This grant will allow us to develop the infrastructure needed to help so many children and families in our communities.”
This week happens to be Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. In 1978, consumer use of lead paint was banned at the federal level due to the dangers posed by it, according to the EPA.
That being said, many homes still have it. The Cattaraugus County Health Department says nearly 70 percent of the homes in both counties were built prior to 1978.
“One-time exposure to lead poisoning isn’t the most damaging but often people don’t know they have been exposed and children are most vulnerable,” Dr. Kevin Watkins, public health director at the Cattaraugus County Health Department, said.
Health officials say the effects of lead paint exposure include irreversible loss of IQ, auditory processing difficulty and poor control of emotions.