Alderwoman seeks more lead testing

Carter urges HUD to take paint samples at 400 units


October 14, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis city council member called yesterday for expanded testing for lead paint at two public housing complexes after sample tests revealed high levels of the toxic substance.

In a letter yesterday, Alderwoman Cynthia A. Carter urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to test nearly 400 units in the College Creek Terrace and Harbor House communities.

She also asked Anne Arundel County to test children living in the communities for lead poisoning.

"We need to take action as quickly as possible," Carter said in an interview.

Frances Phillips, the county's health officer, said she had not received reports from the communities of children with elevated lead levels but that she planned to look into the matter.

"It's a concern, especially about the children," Phillips said.

Annapolis Housing Authority officials said they are not aware of health problems among children because of high lead levels, which were found in vacant units. Lead paint can cause behavioral problems, blood ailments and brain damage, especially in young children.

The high lead levels were recorded last month after housing authority officials could not find records of lead paint testing for many of their 10 communities. They tested vacant units from all of their buildings, about 20 units, and found higher-than-normal lead levels in apartments in the 273-unit Harbor House and 108-unit College Creek Terrace.

Tenants will not be allowed to move into the apartments until the lead paint is removed.

Authorities also will test units occupied by children age 6 or younger, said Alan J. Hyatt, the housing authority's lawyer.

Carter also asked HUD to give the housing authority additional money to help remove lead paint. Such removal can be costly, and Carter said she did not want the agency to suffer financially.

While the housing authority begins testing, Chairwoman Trudy McFall said, it needs to improve its recordkeeping. "Paperwork has not been the authority's strong point," she said.

Carter also asked the county to test children who might have been to the Eastport Recreational Center, which has been closed for several months because of rain damage.

Carter said she is worried that the building might contain asbestos.

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