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Cleveland asks to close some backlogged lead poisoning cases

Published: September 6, 2016 12:59 PM

CLEVELAND (AP) — Officials reviewing Cleveland’s backlog of unresolved lead poisoning cases have asked the Ohio Department of Health to close more than 1,100 of them, a move the city says shows progress in its effort to fix its troubled lead poisoning program.

If the state agrees to the request, it would no longer hold Cleveland responsible for finding guardians of children poisoned in those cases and ensuring the contaminated homes are fixed, The Plain Dealer reported.

The request to close 1,162 cases — more than one-third of the total cases — was sent last week and is the first of its kind in the months city officials have spent working through them. The cases arose from 2003 to 2013.

“This is what we’ve been doing over the last 11 months, really building our capacity and infrastructure to respond,” said Natoya Walker Minor, the city’s chief of public affairs. “We’re doing this while also maintaining (current) cases.”

Lead hazards have been fixed in about one-third of the cases that Cleveland wants closed. Another third involve homes that were inspected but not cleaned up. In the rest of the cases, the homes weren’t inspected because the city never found the parents or guardians of the poisoned children.

Walker Minor said the city expects the state to close the cases, but she isn’t sure when it will receive word on its request.

A state Department of Health spokeswoman said the city “continues to make progress” but declined to comment on whether the progress was satisfactory or if the state has any expectations for when the city should meet its obligations.


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