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EPA Announces Spanish Language Campaign to Promote Testing of Kids at Risk for Lead Poisoning; NHCAC Calls for Broader Testing of Children’s Homes

Release Date: 10/29/2002
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(#02116) New York, New York – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today joined the North Hudson Community Action Corporation (NHCAC) to announce a Spanish language Lead Poisoning Awareness Campaign as part of National Children’s Health Month (October).

The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness among Latino parents of the importance of routine lead screenings for their children. The campaign will include a TV public service announcement and a wall poster. NHCAC screens children for lead poisoning in West New York and Jersey City, NJ.

"Lead poisoning is a serious problem because it strikes at the most vulnerable in society, our children," said Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Unfortunately, the only way to know if the children-at-risk are being lead poisoned is to test them.”

“Too many of our children never get tested,” said NHCAC Medical Director Dr. Jorge Verea. “All children at risk need to be tested at an early age, before it is too late.”

“We have to shift from just testing kids to testing homes,” Michael Leggiero, NHCAC President and CEO said. “In urban areas like ours where lead is ever present, its threat to the health of our children must not be overlooked.”

Lead, a highly toxic metal used for many years in products found in and around homes, has been linked to a range of health effects ranging from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly. Primary sources of exposure to lead for most children include deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust and lead- contaminated residential soil.

EPA has played a major role in addressing these residential lead hazards. Since the 1980s, EPA and its federal partners have phased out lead in gasoline, reduced lead in drinking water, reduced lead in industrial air pollution, and banned or limited lead used in consumer products, including residential paint.

NHCAC operates federally qualified Community Health Centers in four locations, offering bilingual comprehensive health care including adult medicine, pediatrics, prenatal (OB/GYN), family planning, senior health, dental, psychiatry, mental health, alcoholism, & substance abuse services. NHCAC’s lead poisoning prevention work includes community training and outreach in addition to screening for lead poisoning.

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Centers for Disease Control, EPA operates the National Lead Information Center, including a toll-free hotline that can be reached at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).