Officials Call For Removal Of Lead

More than 80 percent of the houses in Jamestown are contaminated with lead paint.

That is according to Natalie Whiteman of the Chautauqua County Health and Human Services Department who discussed lead poisoning with the Jamestown Health Care Action Team Thursday. She said the incident rate of confirmed high blood lead levels is 10 per 1,000 children in the county. Jamestown is considered to have the fifth highest levels of high blood lead levels of cities in the state.

Whiteman said lead poisoning can negatively impact the brain of children from birth to the age of six. She said the effects of lead poisoning on an infant’s brain cannot be reversed. She added children who have had high blood lead levels later in life tend to have high risk behavior, which means they are more likely to do drugs, commit violent crimes and have a higher teen pregnancy rate.

Of the three causes of lead poisoning — water, gasoline and paint — paint is the highest source of poisoning incidents in the county. Whiteman said because of the old housing stock, especially in Dunkirk and Jamestown, lead paint was often used around doors, windows, porches and stairways before it was outlawed in 1978. She said 91 percent of the houses in Dunkirk and Jamestown were constructed before 1979 when the ban went into effect.

Whiteman said lead paint abatement is expensive, ranging from $20,000 to $25,000. She said the county used to receive a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department grant for complete lead abatement, but that is no longer the case. She said the county does receive three grants for lead interim control removal, which only removes chipped or peeling lead paint in houses, but not all of the lead paint in the structure.

She said the grants, of which one is just for Jamestown properties, homeowners can receive up to $800 for lead paint removal.

Whiteman said in the 2019-20 state budget, state officials approved lowering the elevated blood level from 10 micrograms per deciliter to 5 micrograms per deciliter. She said this will help county officials remove more lead paint from houses in the county, but will also increase the case load for the current staff to handle, without any additional funding from the state to deal with more incidents.

After Whiteman’s presentation, Dr. Lillian Ney, HCAT chairwoman and retired physician, called on all medical professionals, community organizations and foundations to work together to eliminate the lead poisoning threat in the county. She said Syracuse and Rochester had movements to remove lead toxicity and were successful.

“We need to get this thing fixed for our children,” she said. “We need to do what other like-minded cities have done,” she said.

In other business, Michael Pease, Chautauqua Center CEO, said that Phase 1 of the new Chautauqua Center facility located at 107 Institute St. will be opening its primary care operations for patients June 30. He said all other aspects of the federally funded health-related services facility will open by the end of August.

The new medical facility will have primary care for all ages, physicals and dental appointments to pediatric care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, immunizations, women’s health care including birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment.

The Chautauqua Center is currently located at 110 E. Fourth St. in Jamestown. Facilities are also located at both 314 and 319 Central Ave. in Dunkirk. A Pediatric Center is located on 1134 Central Ave. in Dunkirk. The Jamestown location can be contacted at 484-4334, and the Primary Care/Dental offices in Dunkirk can be contacted at 366-6036. All offices are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. More information can also be found at thechautauquacenter.org.

HCAT, which is a subcommittee of the Jamestown Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission, was formed to focus on the impact of health care on development in the community, as well as accessible, high-quality health care for residents. Partners on the team consist of City Council members; various foundations; UPMC Chautauqua WCA; Jamestown Area Medical Associates; The Resource Center; Jamestown Primary Care; Chautauqua County Health Network; The Chautauqua Center; Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County; Workforce Investment Board; SUNY Fredonia; Jamestown Community College Nursing Program; and Chautauqua County Health & Human Services and Mental Hygiene departments.

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