The City/County Lead Task Force (on which I serve, with CM Glidden and County Commissioner Dorfman) has been working on a novel approach to the difficult problem of lead poisoning.
It is now well-accepted that there is no safe blood lead level - any amount of lead in the blood can cause health problems such as learning disabilities, especially for children. Studies have clearly indicated that the main lead poisoning vector is no longer chipping and peeling paint (thanks in large part to the good work of City inspections departments, the County, and nonprofits active on this issue) but lead dust near windows. The only truly effective way to solve this problem is to replace the windows.
The group has proposed a revolving window-replacement loan program, funded by the state. All owners of 1-4 unit residential buildings built prior to 1950 will be eligible, which will cover all of the highest-risk buildings. The program, as we have conceived it, will not be means-tested, as all of the money will be repaid (by a lien on the property, if not paid back directly) and means-testing would substantially increase the program's administrative costs. To take advantage of the program, homeowners would have to install Minnesota-made windows.
One wonderful side-effect of this program is that old windows are not only a lead hazard, but one of the worst energy wasters in most houses. Replacing these windows will help us meet our statewide energy efficiency goals, saving us from burning more fossil fuels to heat and cool our homes.
My office worked with CM Glidden to make sure that language specifically supporting this program made it into the City's Legislative Agenda.
I'm pleased to see this good idea moving forward, and I will do what I can to convince legislators to support this innovative and exciting initiative.