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EPA Funds Grant to Combat Childhood Lead Poisoning

Release Date: 12/18/2007
Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / heron.donna@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (December 18, 2007) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic region has awarded a $63,572 grant to the National Nursing Centers Consortium to develop a newborn referral database and to provide culturally-relevant outreach for newborn babies in Philadelphia.

Lead poisoning in Philadelphia remains one of the most dangerous environmental threats to children, despite the fact that it is completely preventable. Philadelphia’s younger children in low-income families, and in old, poorly maintained housing stock, creates ideal conditions for lead poisoning.

High blood levels of lead can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems, such as a reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems and behavioral difficulties. Young children, in particular, are most vulnerable because their nervous systems are still developing.

Low-income residents occupy nearly 95 percent of Philadelphia’s dwelling units built before 1950. The average number of live births in Philadelphia between 1999 and 2002 was 21,373. However, only 2,000 caregivers of newborns receive lead prevention outreach each year.

According to a study conducted by the local Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, between 15 and 25 percent of Philadelphia children do not receive basic screening for lead. In some at-risk communities where linguistic and cultural barriers deter participation in available programs, services are perceived as scarce and unavailable.

EPA’s grant will help NNCC develop a referral database and implement a referral and follow-up strategy for reaching the hardest-to-access populations in Philadelphia. NNCC will also provide outreach in the language and cultural method most helpful to specific ethnic groups.

EPA’s Targeted Lead Grant Program funds projects in areas with high incidences of children with elevated blood-lead levels in vulnerable populations. In 2007, the agency awarded more than $5 million in grants under this program.

EPA’s lead program is playing a major role in meeting the federal goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning as a major public health concern by 2010, and the projects supported by these grant funds are an important part of this ongoing effort.

For more information about EPA’s lead program, visit www.epa.gov/lead or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.

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