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U.S. EPA Awards Local Bay Area Counties Nearly $100K for Innovative Programs that Tackle Childhood Lead Poisoning

Release Date: 07/12/2010
Contact Information: Media contacts EPA: Mary Simms, simms.mary@epa.gov, (415) 947-4270 Santa Clara County: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Lingxia Meng, (408) 299-5119 San Mateo County: Robyn Thaw, RThaw@co.sanmateo.ca.us (650) 573-3935

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding a childhood lead poisoning prevention grant in the amount of $96,752 to Santa Clara County’s Environmental Health Department. This grant will benefit multiple Bay Area Counties. The funding will go to the County’s childhood lead poisoning prevention program through a unique grant designed to reduce childhood lead poisoning throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lead is a toxic metal found in and around many homes built prior to 1978. Children under the age of 6 are most at risk to suffer from the effects of lead poisoning, ranging from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. When not done properly, renovations to pre-1978 homes often disturb lead-based paint, creating dangerous exposures for young children and their families.

The grant will help develop and implement three separate programs in Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Marin County that will reduce lead-based hazards during renovation activities at pre-1978 housing and child-occupied buildings. The programs include outreach to contractors on lead safe work practices, training for day laborers about lead-safe work practices, screening young children for blood lead levels, public service announcements on the importance of lead safe work practices, and training on how to avoid “take home” lead exposures so workers avoid taking home lead on their clothes and tools that could expose family members back at home. EPA is partnering with the health departments of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin County to increase awareness of lead-safe work practices and track compliance in renovated, child-occupied buildings. The multi-media outreach messages will increase lead-safe awareness and encourage the reporting of unsafe lead work practices. The primary objective for San Mateo County is utilizing the grant funds to respond to complaints about unsafe work practices and conduct public outreach to raise awareness.

These efforts throughout the Bay Area will help ensure that an increased knowledge of lead-safe work practices is received by contractors, the Spanish-speaking labor force and the general public. At the end of the grant, the three project components will be comparatively evaluated for their effectiveness.

Members of the media: EPA officials will be available for interviews to discuss details of this funding and provide background information about the risks of lead poisoning. If you would like to schedule an interview, please contact one of the listed media representatives. Please include your name, affiliation, deadline and contact information in your request.

See EPA’s website on Lead Exposure: http://www.epa.gov/lead/