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EPA Funds Grant to Combat Childhood Lead Poisoning

Release Date: 11/7/2000
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center to raise awareness of childhood lead poisoning among day care providers.

The grant recipient will use the funds to survey day care providers in Wards 1 and 5 to gauge their knowledge of lead poisoning hazards in general and D.C.’s Student Health Care Act of 1990 specifically.

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.

The Student Health Care Act, signed into law by the mayor in 1990, was designed to tighten the law regarding childhood lead poisoning. The act requires a pre-admissions lead poisoning screening of children prior to entering day care.

A 1994 survey conducted in D.C. indicated that 84 percent of day care providers and private schools were not in compliance and most did not know of their responsibilities under the act.

“In the U.S. about 900,000 children ages 1 to 5 have high levels of lead in their blood. Incidences of lead poisoning are even higher in urban areas such as the District of Columbia. Even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies,” said Regional Administrator Bradley Campbell. “That’s why this grant is so important. We need to continue our environmental education campaign and to keep the pressure on to make sure children get tested for lead poisoning.”

Along with the survey, educational information will be given to child care providers and speakers will be made available. The 1994 survey indicated that educational materials and speakers increased awareness of the legal requirements in combating childhood lead poisoning.

The survey is expected to be completed by March 2001.

The Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center received a $50,000 EPA grant in September 1999 to conduct lead poisoning prevention/healthy home education in the Washington, D.C. area.