Confidence in the city’s new lead ordinance has been shaken by revelations that the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department has failed to do its part with another lead-safety program.
No one should be living in the two dozen Lucas County homes listed on an Ohio Department of Health list of properties where examinations have shown children tested positive for lead poisoning. But people still are living in the contaminated properties.
A sign posted by the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department covers the door at 530 Acklin Avenue and warns people to stay out because of lead contamination.
More than half the affected homes in Lucas County are occupied, and in several cases, people living there said they didn’t even know their homes had been deemed unsafe for habitation.
The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department was charged with placing warning placards on the properties to alert the public to the lead contamination. A health department official said placards “should have been placed” on every home, but added there is no way to guarantee that they stay up.
The department couldn’t show documentation that placards were placed on all the affected homes, or that department officials warned all the people living there. A department official blamed the problem on “deficiencies” in the agency’s process. No kidding. Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski shamelessly blamed the problem on “a lot of flaws in the entire process” and further pointed his finger at inadequate state laws and negligent landlords.
So, the health department failed our children. And now their parents have sick kids and no safe place to live.
This is unacceptable.
The health department played a role in writing Toledo’s new lead-safe ordinance — the first in the state. It will now have a major responsibility in implementing it. The department will train and certify lead inspectors, who must inspect an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 rental units over a three-year span. With this revelation, there is little reason to feel confident or optimistic.
The health department must investigate how it failed to warn people living in houses identified as hazardous. This is an outrageous and unforgivable failure by a public agency.
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