City of Waco approves lead testing
On Tuesday, September 18, 2018, the Waco City Council gave preliminary approval for lead testing throughout the city. In 2016, 4% of children in the Waco-McLennan county public health district had elevated levels of lead in their blood. The average in Texas is about 2% of children with elevated levels, so the county is concerned that children in Waco are more exposed. This exposure is most likely due to lead paint in older residences.
Lead exposure causes developmental issues and learning disabilities in children, among other complications. Even with relatively high lead levels in the blood, however, there may not be any physical symptoms, making lead a silent toxin. High enough levels, however, can provoke ‘vomiting, confusion, muscle aches, stomach pain and headaches,’ according to Dr. Jonathan Seale, a physician at Providence Family Health Clinic.
What would the new ordinance accomplish?
The new city ordinance would mandate that the local health department would have to intervene if there were a child with level 5 lead exposure or higher. A level 10 lead exposure might call for the health district to advise an environmental lead investigation. After the exposure issue is identified, the homeowner “would submit a plan for the removal, or elimination, of lead hazards within 90 days.” The homeowner, not the builder of the home, would then be responsible for the removal of the lead. Non-compliance could result in a Class C misdemeanor.
“The City of Waco recently applied for a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.” The funding would be used to inform the community about lead-based paint as well as assess older homes that are likely to have lead contamination.