Focus should be on getting successful lead abatement program back on track

March 04, 2011

The recent article regarding HUD lead abatement grants ("City loses lead-paint funding", March 1) and related editorial ("Lead on their hands," March 2) are particularly disturbing in that both failed to explain the true value this program has brought to Baltimore and its residents.

Since 1992 when Baltimore became one of the very first municipalities in the country to be awarded a HUD Lead Hazard Control grant, this very program has served as a national model for other cities and states across this country to duplicate. For nearly 20 years, property owners, both rental and owner occupants, residents both young and old, non-profit organizations, community associations and the public at large have greatly benefitted from the progress made in reducing childhood lead poisoning. Much of this is a direct result of the success of this program.

I am troubled that The Sun has concentrated on the negative and sensational at the expense of evenhanded reporting. That the program has suffered some leadership problems in the last few years that left it unable to overcome the regulatory bureaucracy is probably true. As your editorial pointed out, had the city and health department leadership been more committed and capable over the last few years, this unfortunate situation may well have been avoided. Be that as it may, what should be highlighted prominently is all of the tremendous good that the program and its loyal and committed staff have accomplished.

Where would we be vis-á-vis childhood lead poisoning had the city not received and, in most cases, wisely spent the federal funds? The good news is that attention has been brought to this program and that changes are needed to restore it to its former self. Let us not dwell on the negative but make the necessary changes now to put this invaluable program back on the right track.

Jim McCabe, Baltimore

The writer is president of Leadtec Services, Inc.

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