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


LOS ANGELES - In conjunction with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and Children’s Health Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $235,914 in federal grants to health partners in Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego to assist national efforts on preventing childhood lead poisoning, including children of low-income families of Cambodian and Thai ancestry.

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

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

The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services will use its $100,000 EPA grant to increase lead education and reduce childhood blood lead poisoning among residents of Cambodian (Khmer) ancestry living in pre-1978 multi-unit residential buildings. Half of the Cambodian-ancestry population in the U.S. lives in California, and Long Beach has the highest density of Cambodian-Americans in the nation.

The San Diego Environmental Services Department received a $99,914 EPA grant to undertake a multi-pronged effort to reduce blood lead poisoning cases among children living in the City of San Diego.

In Los Angeles, Thai Health and Information Services, Inc., a non-profit entity, will use its $36,000 EPA grant to promote lead education, and to determine blood lead levels in 175 to 200 young Thai-ancestry children from low-income households in Hollywood, North Hollywood and Los Angeles.

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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