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Mayor Bernardi and EPA Announce $335,000 Grant to Protect Syracuse Kids from Lead Poisoning

Release Date: 07/25/2000
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(#00138) New York, N.Y. – At an event today at the Northeast Community Center in Syracuse, Mayor Roy A. Bernardi and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox announced a $335,000 EPA grant to the city for a major initiative to reduce children’s exposure to lead in homes and public buildings in Syracuse. The announcement was followed by a visit to a home across the street from the community center, where the Mayor and Regional Administrator Fox tried out equipment that will be used in the project to identify and clean up lead hazards in the home.

The grant to Syracuse for its Lead Dust Outreach, Monitoring and Education Project was made through EPA’s Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking program, or EMPACT. President Clinton directed EPA to establish the EMPACT program in 1996 to give 86 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas the opportunity to provide people with up-to-date environmental information they can use every day to make decisions about their health and the environment. To date, EPA has awarded $953,000 in EMPACT funds for projects in New York State, including a 1999 grant for $500,000 to the Syracuse City School District to monitor the health of Onondaga Lake, and this year’s lead grant.

"EPA is very pleased to support Syracuse’s efforts to make the city a safer place for children," said Ms. Fox. "Lead poisoning is one of the most serious health threats to children in the nation, but it is also one that, through public education and awareness, can be prevented. Syracuse has aggressively addressed this problem in the past, and we are honored to help the city take its work even further."

With EPA’s EMPACT grant, the city of Syracuse will undertake a two-year program to identify lead hazards in homes and public buildings throughout the city, educate families about the threat of lead poisoning and its potential effects on children, and, where necessary, help families control the lead hazard. By partnering with seven community-based organizations (including the Northeast Community Center), the city will identify families with children that are interested in having their homes tested for lead dust. Inspectors from Syracuse’s Lead Program will then visit the home, collect dust samples from surfaces in the home, and analyze them for lead levels with an X-ray fluorescence meter. Some samples will also be sent to a laboratory for analysis. If significant lead levels are identified, the city will provide information to the family about how to control or eliminate the sources of dust. The local community-based organization will also make HEPA vacuums, designed to remove lead particles, available to families with elevated household lead levels. Results from the lead tests will be downloaded into Syracuse’s existing lead registry and compiled into maps and statistics, which will be posted on a website and distributed back to the community.

Syracuse’s community partners in the program include the Northeast Community Center, the Southwest Community Center, the Westcott Community Center, the Brighton Family Center, Girls, Inc. of CNY, the Southeast Asian Center and the Spanish Action League.