Thousands of Southeast LA homes still contain lead paint amid bureaucratic tie-ups

State, county and city officials have missed cleanup deadlines, leaving children at risk

Aug.August 31, 2018 09:00 AM
 (credit Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Thousands of homes around Southeast Los Angeles County still contain dangerous levels of lead paint, with cleanup efforts thwarted amid state and local bureaucratic tie-ups, with agencies unwilling to work together.

The homes are all near a former battery plant, leaving children in the area most at-risk of lead poisoning, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Though the county technically has authority over lead paint remediation, the state is handling the ground cleanup from the battery plant, Exide Technologies on Bandi Boulevard in Vernon. Lead paint inside older homes in the area still has not been addressed.

At least 3.7 percent of people under the age of 21 years old in ZIP codes near the plant had elevated levels of lead in their blood between 2011 and 2015, according to a study.

The county says it does not have enough funding to fully handle the cleanup at each contaminated home, while the state contends L.A. County is not doing enough to address the problem. The county has missed deadlines to apply for federal funds, and the state has refused to share some information about the cleanup efforts with the county over privacy issues, according to the report.

At one point, the the city of Los Angeles had a $3.5 million federal grant to clean up 161 homes near the Exide plant. A city official told the Times that state officials refused to share information on contaminated homes over fears of privacy lawsuits.

The issue of lead paint is still a pervasive one. New York City’s failure to clean up lead paint at its public housing developments have left thousands of children vulnerable to poisoning. [Los Angeles Times] — Dennis Lynch

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