Los Angeles County is working to clean up lead-based paint from homes on the Eastside, an area already affected by lead fallout from the shuttered Exide battery plant in Vernon.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create the Exide Area Lead-Based Paint Hazard Mitigation Program, which will work with community groups to clean up approximately 150 to 300 homes.
Paint containing lead was widely used on homes before 1978, when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned it because of its potentially toxic effect on residents, particularly children who can experience developmental delays and neurological changes.
“Prolonged exposure to toxic levels of lead can compromise a child’s brain development and can adversely affect their young nervous system. In adults, lead can cause high blood pressure and kidney damage,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement.
The county will employ “promotoras,” or community health workers, to reach out to residents and encourage them to sign up for the program once it begins this summer.
The program will receive $5.2 million in funding from the county’s $120 million settlement with SoCalGas over the Aliso Canyon gas leak, which was approved in February. The gas company released nearly 109,000 metric tons of methane in 2015 due to a leak at a storage facility near Porter Ranch.
Many Boyle Heights residents are still waiting for state officials to clear the soil around their homes after decades of Exide operations contaminated thousands with lead.
The plant shut down in 2015 after regulators discovered that it had been polluting the surrounding community, and since then the state has pledged nearly $200 million for cleanup efforts. More than 1,500 homes in Boyle Heights have elevated lead levels in the soil, and cleanup efforts have been progressing slowly.
Ten thousand homes within a 1.7-mile radius of the plant have soil lead levels higher than 80 parts per million, the highest level the state considers safe for children’s play areas. The state pledged to clean up 2,500 within two years — but had cleaned up only 717 by April 5.
Solis said the lead-based paint cleanup program was an effort by the county to help residents affected by the Exide pollution clear lead from their homes.
“For too long, families near the Exide plant have suffered in silence,” Solis said in the statement. “Through our Exide Area Lead-Based Paint Hazard Mitigation Program, we will offer these families the help they deserve in order to live in healthy neighborhoods without fear of harmful lead exposure.”
Photo: Protesters at a rally claim Governor Jerry Brown is ignoring an environmental crisis created by the closed Exide plant in Vernon. By Antonio Mejías-Rentas.