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Onondaga County reflects during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

A man stands behind a podium. Two people stand behind him, one on either side.
John Smith
County Executive Ryan McMahon speaks about Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

The City of Syracuse and Onondaga County government are observing their accomplishments during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, whose theme this year is “Together, We Can Prevent Lead Exposure.”

Mayor Ben Walsh knows it’s a major issue in the city, for homes built before 1978.

“In 2022, 510 children in Onondaga County had elevated lead levels in their blood. Ninety percent of those children lived in the City of Syracuse. This is an issue that disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income households,” Walsh said, speaking at a press conference.

Walsh credited the Common Council for the passage of the Lead Abatement and Control Ordinance, which holds landlords accountable, and the launch of the city’s lead inspection program in 2022. So far, more than 30,000 violations have been cited at 1,674 individual properties. However, 61% of the cases have already been addressed and closed. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said it’s very possible homeowners might qualify for lead remediation.

“The mayor touched on the work that his administration has done specifically to address the issue at the home. That’s critical because all the dollars we allocate here, these are dollars that will supplement and compliment those who are unable to make the necessary repairs,” McMahon said.

The effort to prevent lead poisoning is ongoing, with lead abatement and remediation money offered through both city and county programs.

County Health Commissioner Dr. Kathryn Anderson explained it’s especially important to prevent kids from getting sick from lead based paint.

“We know that very young children are at higher risk of being exposed to blood lead due to their behaviors and also because of their biology, and this can have devastating impacts on their life for years and decades going forward," Anderson said. "Lead poisoning can negatively impact their ability to learn, to concentrate, and it can change the course of their life. Lead can persist in their body and decades later can cause problems with high blood pressure and kidney disease."

Lead remediation should be performed only by certified contractors, to prevent anyone not trained in remediation from suffering adverse health effects. For more information about local lead remediations programs visit or

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.