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Cities Speak Out Against Ohio Proposal That Would Ban Local Lead Safety Measures

Ohio EPA
Where lead pipes still exist around Columbus.

The Columbus City Council on Monday night announced it's standing against a state measure that would strip cities of local control to address lead poisoning.

An amended state budget bill would eliminate prevention-aimed programs in cities like Toledo and Cleveland that fight for rental homes to be safe from lead hazards.

Representative Derek Merrin, a Republican from Monclova Township and a real estate investor, offered the amendment at the end of April. He's said local regulations undermine state efforts.

David Norris, a senior researcher at the Kirwan Institute, says the legislation is counter-productive. The Kirwan Institute helped the Toledo Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition write a lead hazard ordinance that just passed a month ago.

“Now we have been really successful with public education programs and bringing down lead poisoning significantly in the United States,” Norris says. “We still have this residual that disproportionately impacts low income families, African American families, Hispanic, Latino families.”

Another such ordinance in Cleveland will go into effect in July. And Norris argues they're both necessary.

"We’ve known about lead paint in housing for years. It was outlawed finally for new home construction in 1978," Norris says. "So we’re talking about 40 plus years on, we still have children who are being lead poisoned by this lead that exists in older housing stock."

The Senate will now consider whether to pass, change or throw out the potential changes to Ohio's lead laws. The budget must clear both chambers by June 30.