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U.S. EPA awards three grants for northern CA childhood lead poisoning prevention efforts


SAN FRANCISCO - In conjunction with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and Children’s Health Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $221,860 in federal grant funds to local agencies in the City of South San Francisco, Santa Cruz County, and San Joaquin County to assist national efforts on preventing childhood lead poisoning.

Young children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning since they are more likely to ingest lead paint chips, flakes, or dust and are more sensitive to the adverse health effects of lead. Elevated blood lead levels in young children can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and brain damage. National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 21 – 27.

“Childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable,” said Nate Lau, associate director for the Communities and Ecosystems Division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. "The EPA grants will help our local partners be part of a national strategic effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning as a health threat in the United States by 2010.”

The City of South San Francisco’s Fire Department intends to use its $100,000 EPA grant to help ensure lead-safe homes, and provide vouchers for blood lead screening for children not covered by other health programs. Outreach efforts include training on lead hazard awareness and lead-safe work practices for contractors, property owners, parents and childcare providers.

With its $94,000 EPA grant, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency intends to screen 1,000 children to determine their blood lead levels as part of multi-agency efforts to achieve the national strategic goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning in the nation by 2010.

San Joaquin County Public Health Services will use its $27,860 EPA grant to assess lead poisoning risk among immigrant and African-American children living in San Joaquin County. The project’s goal is to better identify the risks of lead poisoning for children two-years-old and younger residing in older housing.

The use of lead-based paint in U.S. residential housing was banned in 1978. Approximately 75 percent of the U.S. housing stock built before 1978, or 64 million homes, contain some lead-based paint.


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