After hundreds of San Diego children got sick from living in lead-infested homes, city leaders clamped down on the landlords renting the homes out, but a 10News investigation found not everyone learned their lesson.
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An undercover investigation by the 10News I-Team revealed some landlords are still renting homes contaminated with lead. It is now against the law to sell lead-based paint, but before it was outlawed millions of homes across the country were painted with it.
The I-Team looked exclusively at rental properties built before 1978, because those homes were likely to have used lead-based paint in the construction and upkeep. Per San Diego ordinance, landlords have to acknowledge if there's even a chance the property could have lead in it. Landlords also have to make it known if those homes were built before 1978.
The I-Team checked out eight different rental properties -- all built before 1978. The eight locations were scouted in advance and appeared to be painted with lead-based paint.
The I-Team was able to obtain good samples at one location, which were then provided to the Environmental Health Coalition for testing. The chips came back positive for lead. None of the landlords the I-Team spoke to ever said anything about lead in the homes they were trying to rent to I-Team testers.
"Just simply slapping a coat of paint over lead paint is not adequate as far as dealing with the hazard," said Jason Baker of San Diego's Environmental Health Coalition.
Baker participated in the I-Team's undercover investigation.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead is toxic to children and studies have shown it causes learning disabilities and sometimes brain damage. The EPA says all it takes is ingesting about the equivalent of a packet of sugar to cause damage.
"There's something very wrong here," San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald said after reviewing video of I-Team testers quizzing landlords about any potential hazards -- in particular for children -- the rental property may have.
Emerald, who chairs San Diego's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, called the lack of disclosure" troubling and inconsistent."
She promised action, and her first opportunity will come in March when the city's Public Safety Committee meets. On their agenda will be what I-Team testers found in this investigation.
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