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Syracuse Common Councilors Approve Beefed Up Lead Paint Ordinance


A new lead paint ordinance is now on the books in Syracuse after common councilors Monday gave it their unanimous support.  Councilor Joe Driscoll has made it a priority since joining the council more than two years ago. 

He says the enforcement measure allows code inspectors to be more proactive and less reactive by citing a property owner for a lead paint violation.

"When a child tests positive and its clear they have lead poisoning, we go back to their environment to find out where the poisoning happened.  What this legislation will enable the city to do is when code inspectors check properties, they're going to be doing dust swipes to see if the lead hazard is present, which will hopefully prevent the lead poisoning before it happens."

Driscoll says lead exposure has been shown to result in lower IQ, poor performance in school, behavioral problems, loss of earning potential, and worse.  He says studies show for every dollar spent on lead paint prevention, a community sees 7 to 200 dollars in return.

"What does it look like if we have more stability in our school system; what does it look like if we're not spending all this money on health care throughout this child's life to deal with all the health problems; what does it look like to not have to spend this money on the other end in the correctional system."

Mayor Ben Walsh commended Driscoll’s efforts to get the legislation introduced and passed.  In a statement, he calls the ordinance a ‘historic step forward’ for the health and safety of children and families, especially those in low income areas who deserve greater protection against the threat of lead poisoning.  Walsh also credits other partners in the larger effort, including The CNY Community Foundation, which has committed $2 million to provide resources, education, and outreach. 

The city will now work to bring on a lead paint program coordinator, get inspectors certified, and identify a lab to be a testing partner.  The program could be up and running by this fall, but Walsh says it could be delayed by the city’s growing fiscal crisis due to COVID-19. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at