New Haven Mayor Toni Harp announces lead mitigation plan

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven Mayor Toni Harp made an announcement on plans for tougher inspections on lead.

Harp released a plan to tackle the cities issue with lead exposure in children.

The plan calls for inspections and abatement to occur whenever a child tests for five micrograms or more of lead.

In November, in an effort to save money, the mayor floated a plan to move that level to 20 micrograms, as she says state law requires. That move prompted multiple lawsuits still being worked out in court.

“The city will use this recent spat of lawsuits as a springboard to refine its ordinance eliminate any potential ambiguity in its language and go forward with a plan of action,” said Harp.

In the plan, the mayor would hire more inspectors to perform inspections on the up to 20,000 potentially impacted homes, revitalize education and outreach programs and the city would expand efforts to bring in more state and federal money to deal with the issue.

“New Haven’s decades long commitment on this issue has resulted in a declining number of lead exposure illnesses, so much so that Yale New Haven Hospital closed its lead clinic several years ago,” said Harp.

“The proposed ordinance amendment sets forth the cities policy and protocol which focuses on the most vulnerable children while providing a process for parents and guardians,” said Dr. Dakibu Muley, Community Services Administrator.

The city first banned lead based paints in 1974 and the mayor says the number of impacted children is going down. She says there were 228 children in 2016 that tested positive for lead exposure above the safe levels and that number decreased to 104 by 2018.

Despite these successes, one of Harp’s election opponents says it this plan should have been in place all along.

“The mayor’s press conference today is basically saying the city is doing what it should have already been doing,” said Justin Elicker, candidate for New Haven mayor. “It’s so unfortunate that taxpayers have wasting tax money for the city to be doing something that ethically and scientifically should already have been doing.”

The plan also requires conducting a national search for a city health director, potentially hiring a consultant to perform it.

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