Kids ingest paint chips with lead in Norwich - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Kids ingest paint chips with lead in Norwich

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Eighty percent of the homes in Norwich are built before 1978, which makes them all candidates for lead problems. (WFSB) Eighty percent of the homes in Norwich are built before 1978, which makes them all candidates for lead problems. (WFSB)
NORWICH, CT (WFSB) -

Connecticut officials said thousands of homes are possibly at risk for lead just like in flint, Michigan. In Norwich, two children, in two different homes, have already been poisoned.

However, unlike Flint, the lead isn't coming from the water, but rather the paint in the homes.  

Connecticut officials said the problem in Norwich is nothing new. Eighty percent of the homes in Norwich are built before 1978, which makes them all candidates for lead problems.

A residence on South A Street in the Taftville section of Norwich is one home that tested positive for lead. A child under the age of six ingested paint chips and was diagnosed with lead poisoning.

“It's usually hand to mouth contact,” Wayne Sharkey, who is the rehab specialist with the Norwich Community Development, said. “Dust, particles get on the floor. They play on the floor, have their hands touch the floor then touch their mouth, ears.”

Because there's so many homes built before 1978 in Norwich, Sharkey compares the crisis in Connecticut to what's going on in Flint because while the patient count may be much lower in Connecticut, the cause and the effects are the same.

“Whether it's water or if it's ingested through lead dust or paint chips, the damage is the same,” Sharkey said.

Officials said the problem could extend to any community.

“This is not specific to Norwich. I don't want people to be under the impression that Norwich has a lead issue,” Gary Evans with Norwich Community Development said. “Yes, we do, but any community that has lead issues with properties built prior to 1978, those issues could be real.”

They're having a tough time solving them. Officials said eliminating lead completely can cost up to $12,000. For example, the South A Street home was condemned because officials said the landlord doesn't have the cash to clean up. The family is staying in a hotel.

But, officials have their hands tied too because they haven't been approved for federal grant money that could immediately get this home back up to code.

“When the funds are here, we have the system in place to address those issues immediately,” Evans said.

So until the money comes in, officials say the comparisons between Connecticut and Flint shouldn't go away.

“The hazards are just as real here and in any community that has a wide population of properties built before 1978 as they are in Flint, Michigan,” Sharkey said.

Officials said there's a temporary fix that can be done immediately. That's repainting with latex paint.. It'll help seal everything down.

The symptoms of lead poisoning are somewhat such as the flu. If parents have any concerns, they should see their pediatrician.

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