lead poisoning

Zoë McCreary

Over the past month, WAER worked in collaboration with The Stand and the Newhouse School of Communications on a series about Syracuse's lead-poisoning crisis.  Reporter Sydney Gold produced stories on families affected by lead poisoning, the health impacts, and the responses from government and non-profits.  Sydney shared more of what she learned reporting the story with WAER News Director Chris Bolt.  


Syracuse’s lead-poisoning crisis has been a focal point for non-profit organizations across the city, as they try to protect children from the serious health effects.  Many groups have played a crucial role in providing aid to Syracuse families, who face severe health impacts. They have also been pushing for a city-wide response to this ongoing public health crisis.

The Stand File Photo


This past summer marked a pivotal moment of Syracuse’s battle against childhood lead poisoning. The Common Council passed the city’s first lead ordinance, codifying some of the best practices for mitigating the impact into law. Council Member Joe Driscoll pushed hard for this legislation.


Jessica Ruiz/The Stand

Syracuse’s Lead Poisoning crisis affects the health of as many as one-in-ten children.  It also has costs to society, in increased crime, teen pregnancy, and other problems that have to be addressed.  In part two of our series on lead poisoning: How some of those impacts play out in the community.

Chris Bolt/WAER News

Syracuse has one of the worst lead poisoning crises in the nation.  One in 10 children have elevated blood lead levels, and this rate jumps to a staggering one-in-five in some of the lowest income neighborhoods,  according to Onondaga County Health Department data.

Bart Everson / flickr.com/creativecommons

Numerous stakeholders have been watching closely over the past two years or so as Syracuse moved toward final adoption of a new lead paint ordinance. The measure approved Monday by Common Councilors means city code inspectors can cite the presence of lead paint as a violation. 

WAER file photo

Landlords that have lead contamination in their houses or apartments could find themselves the target of fines and criminal charges as Onondaga County is stepping up enforcement. Community and law enforcement officials today announced a series of forums to help landlords and builders know how to get rid of lead problems. 

Scott Willis / WAER-FM 88.3

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson made a stop in Syracuse Friday to get a sense of the city’s stubborn and persistent lead paint problem.  Congressmember John Katko invited Carson and officials from several housing organizations for a roundtable discussion. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County is getting more aggressive in trying to tackle the stubborn lead paint problem in the area’s older housing stock.  County Executive Ryan McMahon issued an order Thursday that holds landlords more accountable for lead abatement on their properties in order to prevent lead poisoning in children.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County, and especially Syracuse, continue to grapple with a serious and stubborn lead problem.  The old housing stock combined with high poverty levels and low home ownership rates mean efforts to rid homes of lead paint have been painfully slow for decades.  Here's how the crisis has impacted one north-side family: