Summit County and the City of Akron are getting more than $10 million in federal funds to test for and remediate lead in nearly 500 hundred homes.
The money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development is one of the largest grants since Summit County began focusing on lead remediation in the early 1990s.
About 127,000 homes -- more than three-quarters of the housing stock -- in the county were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned for residential use. But Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says not all of those homes will actually need a lead assessment.
“It’s concentrated in those areas where you find the oldest housing stock and in areas of lowest incomes because individuals cannot afford to keep up their houses, particularly if you’re the elderly," Skoda said. "A lot of elderly in Summit County live right above the federal poverty line."
Brent Rollins, Healthy Homes Manager for the county health department, says many of those homes have been re-painted, remodeled or otherwise altered in the past four decades. But there are still concerns that lead paint is hiding within old siding and windows.
“Over time, the lead paint will actually turn into a dust. That’s also why we focus on children under six years of age because at this time, they’re crawling around on the floors, they’re playing with toys [and] moving around, and they’re also at that level where they can hang on window sills,” Rollins said.
The funds are part of more than $45 million awarded to the state, most of which is going to Northeast Ohio.
In Summit County, anyone concerned about lead levels should ask to be tested by the health department. The results will be used to determine whether a person's home needs to be assessed for lead paint hazards.
In Akron, residents can call the city’s 3-1-1 information line.