Grant helps Dubuque keep removing dangerous lead paint - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Grant helps Dubuque keep removing dangerous lead paint

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

There are old homes in eastern Iowa that still have their original lead-based paint, something that has since been found to be dangerous to children.

This week, at the US Conference of Mayors annual meeting in Las Vegas, Dubuque mayor Roy Buol accepted a $50,000 DuPont Lead-Safe for Kids' Sake grant. The money will help further efforts to make old homes in the city's Washington neighborhood safe.

From his perch on his front porch, Dubuquer Gene Pfeiffer, 69, and his dog Spunky watch the world go by.

"Oh yeah, yeah. Just watch the people go by," he said, sitting on his porch during Friday's warm and breezy summer afternoon.

Pfieffer has lived in his home at 1649 Washington Street for some 40 years, but it was last year the city came in and fixed it up.

"I think they did a wonderful job what they did for me," he said. "They did all that new plumbing and electrician, you know, dry wall. All that stuff, you know, and paint."

All the efforts went toward making his house a safer place to live.

On any given Washington neighborhood block, Dubuque's healthy homes inspector Sharon Gaul can point out exactly where old homes may have lead paint and other problem.

"We try to tie all of our inspections back to 29 hazards," she said. "It can range anywhere from plumbing, electrical, the lead hazards we also look for, trip hazards, water intrusion. Any of those sorts of things."

Dubuque's newly-awarded $50,000 grant will continue the work done under the umbrella of Dubuque's Green and Healthy Home Initiative, which, among many other things, works to make old homes lead paint-free.

"Lead hazards are typically those painted surfaces that needed durable paint: windowsills, doorways, porches, kitchens, bathrooms," Dubuque public health specialist Mary Rose Corrigan said. "Lead paint usually has a checkered-patterned peeling to it."

She said lead paint only becomes dangerous when it's peeling or deteriorating, since it can then break down into lead dust kids can inhale or ingest through their mouths.

"Lead is a problem in that it affects children's growth and development, particularly their ability to learn and read, do well in school and function later in life," Corrigan said. "Because the city of Dubuque is a rather old city, it has a high incidence of lead in housing in our community."

Since 1994, lead poisoning rates in children have significantly decreased in Dubuque, since that's when the city established a program to lessen the problem.

The city's program works to update homes that are vacant and the city buys as well as owner-occupied homes, though there's a waiting list for the latter.

Folks the city helps, such as Pfeiffer, can sit on porches that are lead paint-free.

Corrigan said the height of lead paint use was from the 20s to the 60s, when a lot of homes were built in eastern Iowa.

Screening for lead poisoning has since become mandatory for Iowa children.

The city of Dubuque has lead informational resources here: http://www.cityofdubuque.org/index.aspx?NID=201

The Iowa Department of Public Health has lead information here: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/lead_poisoning_prevention.asp

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