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New Haven Struggles To Tackle Lead Abatement

Carlos Osorio
A registered nurse draws a blood sample to test for lead poisoning.

A 2-year-old girl living in a rental home in New Haven, Connecticut, tested positive for lead in her blood. The levels were nine times what the federal government says will cause irreversible development problems.

The little girl still lives at 130 Grafton Street, where a city inspector found toxic levels of lead paint. The landlord is set to appear in court for criminal charges on Thursday. That’s after she failed to remove lead paint in the home nearly a year after the the city ordered her to.

Several New Haven tenants have sued landlords over lead abatement this year. The judges told city officials to take over abatement at three rental properties.

The city’s problems with lead are not going away. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that if a house was built before 1940, there’s about a 90 percent chance it has some lead paint.

More than half of New Haven’s housing stock was built before 1939 and most of those homes are renter-occupied.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.