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City to screen for lead exposure

ALBANY, Ga. -- Exposure to lead-based paint may seem like a health foe from some bygone era, but Albany city officials say they still see evidence of lead in homes they rehabilitate and they are planning to screen youth in target areas who may have been exposed.

A project in the City Community Development Department's application for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would work in conjunction with the Dougherty County School System and the Department of Community Health to screen children who live in older homes where exposure to lead-based paint may be more likely, Director Latoya Cutts said.

Expected to cost $5,000, the program would only apply to those who live in target areas identified by the city where older homes exist.

HUD already requires that municipalities receiving federal money to rehabilitate homes check for lead and remove it if it's detected.

"I don't have the numbers right here but I'd say that a majority of the older homes that we rehabilitate have lead issues," Cutts said.

Lead was a popular additive in products like paint and was used in many homes built before 1978, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA says that children are more likely to suffer from lead poisoning and other effects because their bodies often absorb lead more easily and their organs that are more sensitive to the metal.

Exposure can lead to brain and nervous system damage, hyperactivity, slow growth and hearing problems in children.

It can lead to nerve disorders, reproductive problems, high blood pressure, hypertension and memory loss.