(BROOKLYN) – The Northeast District Department of Health (NDDH) is one of 15 national awardees to receive a lead poisoning prevention awareness mini-grant from the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). According to the NCHH website, “these mini-grants will help communities in advancing their understanding and support of lead poisoning prevention. They are intended to help gather community members and decision-makers to engage in a dialogue around action that can advance local lead poisoning prevention efforts.”
“Lead poisoning prevention has always been a public health priority,” explained Susan Starkey, NDDH Director of Health. “The state budget is impacting a number of programs, so it was essential for us to find another funding source for this important work. We submitted a compelling application and are grateful to NCHH for awarding us this national grant.”
NDDH’s application, “Healthy Homes Northeast CT: Love Where You Live and Live Lead-Free – A Community Partnership to Prevent Lead Poisoning” was one of 91 applications from 30 states and the District of Columbia received by NCHH.
As part of efforts to promote Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 22-28), NDDH will use the $5,000 award to host a Lead Poisoning Prevention Forum on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the health department on 69 South Main Street in Brooklyn. Funds will also be used to host a free Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lead Renovator Training - Initial Course: Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) on November 1, 2017, also at the health department. The RRP training will be conducted in partnership with Mystic Air Quality Consultants and is aimed at contractors, workers, painters, remodelers, and rental property owners and landlords who are conducting renovation in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities.
“This grant came along at the perfect time,” commented Linda Colangelo, NDDH Education and Communications Coordinator. “With support from our partners in the Lead, Radon, and Healthy Homes Program at the CT Department of Public Health, we have been collaborating with local building officials, HUD administrators and inspectors, realtors, building contractors, physicians, and the community at large for the past few years to increase awareness about lead poisoning prevention. Fifty-seven northeast Connecticut children were lead poisoned in 2015. The October 24th forum will explore strategic ways to prevent more children from being poisoned.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that lead poisoning is 100% preventable if children are kept from coming in contact with lead. Although there are several exposure sources, lead-based paint is the most widespread and dangerous high-dose source of lead exposure for young children. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Common home renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint. These can be harmful to adults and children. Children under the age of 6 years are most at risk because they grow so rapidly and tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths.
Protecting children from exposure to lead is important for lifelong good health. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement. Effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. The most important step parents, doctors and others can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs.
The competitive solicitation for the grant was led by the National Center for Healthy Housing, the preeminent national nonprofit dedicated to securing healthy homes for all, and the Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. Funding was made possible through the Health Impact Project, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Health Impact Project report, 10 Policies to Prevent and Respond to Childhood Lead Exposure, was published on August 30, 2017.
Those interested in attending the Lead Poisoning Prevention Forum on October 24 or the EPA RRP Training on November 1 may register by calling NDDH at 860-774-7350.