Lead be gone

Chemistry. a heavy, comparatively soft, malleable, bluish-gray metal, sometimes found in its natural state but usually combined as a sulfide, esp. in galena. Symbol: Pb; atomic weight: 207.19; atomic number: 82; specific gravity: 11.34 at 20 C.

The Central for Disease Control and Prevention wants to see lead poisoning eliminated by 2010, said Inga Back, the program coordinator for the Onondaga County lead hazard department.

The Syracuse city lead department, headed by Betsy Mokrzycki, has been federally funded since 1994, and currently has a $7 million grant to continue its program through 2010, which educates people about lead poisoning and gives money to homes that have high risks of lead exposure to children.

Children ages 6 and under are most susceptible to lead poisoning because they're constantly putting toys in their mouths, which may have collected lead dust from the floor, Back said.

Both the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County have lead departments, but also they work in collaboration with one another, with the goal of purging houses and buildings of lead hazards.

"We're an arm into the community," said Kimberly Goss, the program coordinator for the Syracuse lead department.

Lead poisoning, widely found in children, has effects of lower IQs, kidney damage, hearing loss, growth problems and behavioral problems, Goss said.

"(The Syracuse lead department and the county lead department) work hand in hand to try to eliminate lead hazards," she said.

Single-family homes are awarded $15,000 and two to four family homes are given up to $20,000 to eliminate lead hazards, Goss said.

Once families are granted funds, contractors go through the homes eliminating lead hazards, which largely include chipped paint. The lead hazard department follows up with the families even after the hazards have been eliminated.

"We still have a presence after the program," Goss said, whose department assisted 700 children last year.

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