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Thousands Of Austin Homes At Risk For Lead Exposure
If you are living in a house built before 1978, you and your family could be at risk for lead poising.
Hosea Wright has lived in this quiet house for more than four decades, and until recently she never knew she and her familys lives were in danger.
"It was scary because you have no idea," Wright said. "When my youngest son was about four years old he went to school right up the street, and he had lead, but I thought he got it from there."
Wright is not alone. The City of Austin estimates there could be as many as 30,000 other homes contaminated with dangerous lead.
Brett Harris, a construction coordinator for the city, said lead contamination can be found indoors as well as outdoors.
"Doors, cabinets, shelves and anything that can slide and rub against itself and generate dust," Harris said.
Without special equipment to protect you from contamination, even small doses of lead poising can be devastating. Some of the effects are brain damage, reproductive problems and even death.
Coby Ramirez, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Housing Construction Supervisor, said lead can be so dangerous because it is an invisible hazard.
"Even homes that have been painted over and over again, [people] think the problem is gone," Ramirez said, "it's not, hazards can return."
The City of Austin was granted $2.5 million for the LeadSmart Program. With the money they are able to abate 150 houses in the Austin area. So far the city said they have only removed lead from 45 houses.
To qualify for the program you must own or rent a house built before 1978, have a child age five or younger living with you or who visits at least six hours a week, and you are at 80 percent or below of the area median income.
The City of Austin said the program is free, and the city will relocate residents at no cost while the house is being worked on.
By Cassie Gallo