OAKLAND (KRON) — Dangerous levels of lead have been found in children living in Oakland.
But what is alarming is that the percentage of lead found in the Fruitvale District is higher than the lead levels in children living in Flint, Michigan.
Flint has had a well-documented problem with lead in its water.
However, as KRON4 has learned, the Fruitvale District has a different kind of lead problem.
A recent Reuters news report stated that lead levels in Oakland’s Fruitvale District are worse than the levels that were discovered in Flint.
The problem in Flint was in the water.
“People see the word Flint, Michigan, and then they see Oakland lead poisoning, and then they think water,” Alameda County Healthy Homes Department Director of Operations Larry Brooks said. “It’s not the water here. It’s the lead paint.”
Brooks says his goal is to make sure everyone is healthy.
“Research the connection between health and housing and to come up with best practices to making sure people live safe and healthy within their homes,” Brooks said.
Brooks says according to data provided by the California Department of Public Health, children under the age of 6 living in Oakland’s Fruitvale District have elevated levels of lead poisoning and it is directly related to housing.
“In the 25 years that we have been responding to elevated lead cases, we found that primarily it’s due to deteriorated lead-based paint,” Brooks said. “City of Oakland (found) more than 90 percent of the homes built in Oakland were built prior to 1980. And lead was not removed from residential paint until 1978. Also, soil has been one of the primary sources…”
So, what is the City of Oakland doing about buildings covered with lead-based paint.
“When their code enforcement officers find lead hazards, they report them to us,” Brooks said.
But he says that is a complaint-driven process that will hopefully be replaced by a routine rental inspection program.
“They’re not going to be waiting for a complaint in order to go find the lead hazards,” Brooks said. “It will just be a part of their routine inspection protocol.”
A routine rental inspections proposal is currently working its way through Oakland City Legislature.
In the meantime, health officials say to contact your child’s healthcare provider if you think they have been exposed to lead-based paint.