News 11 Investigation: Lead Alert - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

News 11 Investigation: Lead Alert

By Mika Highsmith - bio | email

Posted by Nick Dutton - email

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Your home is your comfort zone, but is it safe. If a house was built before 1978, lead could be lurking within the walls.

Andrea Starks fell in love with a home in Toledo, but what she didn't see in the walls has the mother and grandmother in shock.

"I got a letter last Thursday from the health department stating there was lead in the home and I have to be out by June 25," says Starks.

Her granddaughter has a life threatening condition.

"Her sickness could kill her. She was on life support back in January... She's been sick since she was born. She's been in the hospital four times."

The landlord received orders from the Lucas County Health Department to fix the problem back in November, but rented the home anyway. The home has since been condemned and the landlord faces charges. 

Justice should be served, but it could have been prevented.

Registered Sanitarian Ryan Sekinger from the Lucas County Health Department says it's starts with a visual inspection.

"As I walk up to the house I would note the exterior I would look at the siding," says Sekinger.

Look for cracked or chipped paint on the outside and inside of the home. Lift windows and look for lead dust, especially near where small children sleep.

The window sill on the right from the Stark's home was littered with lead dust.

"If you have a nice day and a breeze comes, the lead dust will blow onto the floor," says Sekinger.

Beyond visual checks, be sure to call the health department and request a lead disclosure form from the owner of the home. However, if they've never checked the home, nothing will show up.

It's best to test homes with high tech equipment.  

And for most of us who don't have access to this type of equipment, get a self lead test from the hardware store. It will bring the risks to the surface.

"I never thought in a million years that there would be lead in this home," says Starks.

Spending money to fix the problem may save a life.

"It's better to know I wouldn't want to be anywhere where I'm going to get sick my children my life is more important than that," says Starks.

The Lucas County Health Department investigators followed up and relocated the family. The baby did positively test for lead, but at a low level, so she's fine.

If someone suspects a home may be contaminated with lead, get it tested. Children under 6 can get a free check at the health department, but don't wait until it gets to that point.

Get your home tested. There are programs to help with the cost. Call the health department at 419 213-4100 for more information.

Copyright 2009 WTOL, a Raycom Media station. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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