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EPA awards $59,249 grant to Arizona for childhood blood-lead screening

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

5,000 young children statewide to be screened for blood-lead levels

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded a $59,249 grant to the Arizona Department of Health Services to screen 5,000 young Arizona children to determine blood-lead levels.

The Arizona Direct Lead Screening Project, through the Arizona Department of Health Services, aims to prevent childhood lead poisoning and reduce its adverse health effects on young children in Arizona. In winning the highly competitive EPA grant, ADHS will conduct blood-lead screening of 5,000 children. Through their efforts to encourage parents to have their children screened for blood-lead levels, ADHS will increase statewide awareness of the health risks of lead-based paint on young children and expectant mothers.

"Childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable," said Enrique Manzanilla, director for the Communities and Ecosystems Division for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "This grant helps our state partner determine which young children have elevated blood-lead levels and begins a process of case management and environmental investigations to help pinpoint sources of lead poisoning."

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 grants, which include the ADHS grant and a $100,000 grant awarded to the non-profit Family Counseling Agency of Tucson, Inc. to increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning (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.