Lakewood has a lead problem.
No surprise there, really. Cleveland has a serious lead problem, and Lakewood was built in the same era with the same methods. The United States only banned lead-based paint in 1978; most of Lakewood’s housing is nearly a century old.
Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the human body, and the effects are not only harmful, but can be lifelong when lead poisoning occurs in childhood. At a recent symposium in Cleveland, Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes noted that “those not treated early end up in an institution—often prison.”
There are two main reasons why lead remains a problem.
- Obvious symptoms of lead exposure often aren’t immediate. So early intervention requires ongoing, year-in year-out testing.
- The cost of lead-poisoning is high—special-needs education for children harmed by lead is more than double a school’s typical cost per student—but the costs aren’t immediate either. So it’s possible for one administration to cut safety programs and pass the costs to another.
That’s where Lakewood is now.