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Fight against lead poisoning in Syracuse gets $125K bump

Gray paint peels off a wall, revealing a white stained yellow wall underneath.
Paul Mossine
New York City Council
A wall painted with lead paint peels and becomes discolored.

A program to help reduce the risk of lead poisoning in the city of Syracuse is getting a financial bump.

The Community Foundation of Central New York received $125,000 in grant funds to bolster its $2 million pledge to counter the high rates of lead poisoning among children in Syracuse. About 10 percent of kids tested in the city had elevated levels of lead in their blood, county data shows.

Central New York Community Foundation's Darrell Buckingham said the high rates disproportionally affects some communities more than others.

"Certainly, Black folks, and folks that are low income, are disproportionately affected by lead poisoning," Buckingham said. "And so that is near and dear to my heart, right, as someone who grew up in some of these areas that have the highest rates."

Children are also at higher risk, he said.

"Particularly those that are under the age of 6, you know, that affects their young bodies," Buckingham said. "It just impacts them in a harsher way."

The foundation will use the recently awarded grant funds from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to replace doors and windows in Syracuse homes built before 1978, when lead paint was banned. Cracks around the entry points can increase the risk of poisoning.

It's the third time the Central New York foundation received the grant dollars, and the organization plans to funnel the money to Home HeadQuarters, which will install the doors at windows at no cost to residents.

But Buckingham said the nonprofit is looking for more ways to address the preventable problem of lead poisoning.

"We've also funded projects to have kind of lead health advocates go out into the community—those that are kind of trusted messengers, some of whom might have lived experiences to really go out and have conversations with folks in the neighborhoods about this issue that they might not be aware of, in their language," Buckingham said.

The Community Foundation is also funding a new role for the city of Syracuse. A case manager will track lead ordinance enforcement issues and remediation efforts. The efforts are part of the organization's LeadSafeCNY initiative, a pledge to invest $2 million over five years to reduce the high rates among children.

A news release from the organization said it had so far contributed $1.97 million toward that goal.