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EPA awards $100,000 grant to Tucson non-profit to increase childhood blood-lead awareness

Release Date: 12/1/2005
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded a $100,000 grant to a Tucson non-profit organization to increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning.

Family Counseling Agency of Tucson, Inc. won the highly competitive EPA grant, and will work with local service providers to offer childhood lead-poisoning education, outreach and follow-up services to parents and expectant parents in childbirth classes. The non-profit will also conduct outreach to local medical professionals to test one and two-year-old children for lead poisoning.

"Childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable," said Enrique Manzanilla, Communities and Ecosystems Division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "This grant serves a vital public health role in preventing childhood lead poisoning before it occurs by raising public awareness among expectant mothers, parents of young children and medical and social service providers."

The goal of the project is to increase the number of young Tucson children, especially those living in low-income areas, screened for blood-lead levels.

Low-level lead poisoning is widespread among American children with lead-based paint being the primary cause. 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.

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.

As part of the EPA's childhood lead poisoning grant program, the agency recently announced more than 20 grants nationwide totaling $1.8 million. Arizona received two, which include the Tucson grant and a $59,249 grant awarded to the Arizona Department of Health Services to screen 5,000 young children in Arizona to determine blood-lead levels (http://yosemite.epa.gov/r9/r9press.nsf/7f3f954af9cce39b882563fd0063a09c/59c62ad8b0d2b6fa882570ca0067b759!OpenDocument).

For information on EPA's lead paint program, go to :http://www.epa.gov/region09/toxic/lead/ For information on lead in paint, dust and soil, visit: http://www.epa.gov/lead/ For information on protecting your family from lead hazards, visit: http://www.epa.gov/lead/leadinfo.htm#protect

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