Toledo passed a law to protect its kids from lead poisoning; will Cleveland step up?

By Rachel Dissell, Brie Zeltner,
The Plain Dealer

With the help of Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity, the Toledo Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition (TLPPC) set out to educate city council members and residents on the nature and scope of the problem.

“This was an issue of racial and environmental justice,” Robert Cole, managing attorney at the non-profit regional law firm Advocates for Basic Legal Equity (ABLE) said. “Eighty percent of poisoned kids were black kids who lived in rental homes.”

The goal was to make sure it wasn’t palatable to vote against legislation that could prevent future poisonings among these children.

Still, there was opposition, Cole said, particularly from landlords. Some argued in public meetings that if people took better care of their apartments or cleaned better, their children wouldn’t be lead poisoned, an idea that’s been debunked by research on the topic.

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The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity was established in 2003 as a center for interdisciplinary research at The Ohio State University. The Kirwan Institute works to create a just and inclusive society where all people and communities have opportunity to succeed.