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Urban Environmental Program in New England

What is Lead?

Lead is a toxic metal that may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly. In the 1980's, the use of lead was phased out of gasoline and paint. But since New England has a lot of housing which is more than 25 years old, many of our houses may still contain lead paint. Exposure to lead usually occurs due to the presence of deteriorating lead-based paint, lead contaminated dust (particularly from renovations), and lead-contaminated residential soil.

Grants & Projects

2007: Consolidated School District – New Britain (New Britain)
"Improving Lead Education Materials, A Multilingual Approach"
$35,000
While great strides have been made in reducing the incidents of childhood lead poisoning in the State of Connecticut, there remain continuing challenges to its elimination as a public health concern. The Consolidated School District – New Britain will take the existing printed lead poisoning awareness and prevention information from the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health and have the literacy level reduced to 4th grade and then subsequently have the materials translated into Spanish, Polish, and Arabic to better service the target audience. School nurses, parent volunteer organizers, and high school students will be trained using these new materials and they will, in turn, work with elementary schools students, preschool students, parents, and the community.

Measurable Results: Expected results for the project include: Increased lead screening rate from 43% to 60%; Development of low-literacy lead education materials; Translation of education materials in Arabic, Spanish, and Polish; a minimum of 3 Parent Volunteer Organizers, 3 high school students, and 5 school nurses trained in lead poisoning signs/symptoms, awareness, screening, follow-up services, and city-based lead remediation programs.

Partners: City of New Britain Department of Public Health


2006: City of Bridgeport, Health Department Lead Prevention Program (Bridgeport, CT)
Neighborhood Environmental Action Team
$30,000
The City of Bridgeport’s Health Department will expand its lead poisoning prevention program by hiring an environmental health consultant to train four high school students to develop and teach a curriculum for forty 4th and 5th grade students. The high school students will be selected through an essay-writing contest at Harding High School and will receive forty hours of training on ways to identify environmental toxins, effects on public health, and how to create healthy indoor and outdoor environments to reduce exposure to toxic substances. Both the high school students and the younger children they teach will create tools including informational posters to help reach and education local residents in target areas. The environmental health consultant will also host two workshops to educate high school students on lead and mercury poisoning issues. Informational packets will be sent home to the parents of participating students, and referral forms will direct parents to resources available from partnering programs.

Measurable Results: 400 hour-long curriculum developed by four trained high school students taught to 40 elementary school students; 50 high school students receive workshop education on lead and mercury issues; increase in number of children under 6 years old tested for blood lead levels; increase in number of lead-safe housing units; increase in family awareness of lead and mercury poisoning and risk reduction.


2007: The Food Project (Dorchester)
"Cultivating Partnerships for Healthy Urban Soils & Communities"
$35,000
Recent soil tests of 125 gardens in the Dudley Street neighborhood have demonstrated dangerous lead contamination levels in 80% of gardens. For the past ten years, The Food Project has promoted sustainable urban agriculture practices as ways to reduce the environmental and human health risks posed by lead-contaminated soil. The Food Project has recently joined 62 Boston-based organizations from nine different sectors in launching the "Boston Food and Fitness Collaborative" to make Boston "America's Healthiest City by 2015". Partnering with the Boston Public Health Commission and the Shirley Eustis House, The Food Project is building an Urban Learning Farm, a center of nourishment that will model safe, urban agriculture and directly provide Roxbury neighborhoods with fresh, locally-grown produce. This project will educate over 800 people in the techniques of safe, chemical-free urban agriculture. They will provide education around the health risks posed by exposed urban soils and maintain their high-production farmland in the Dudley Street neighborhood and the new Urban Learning Farm where they will continue work to promote healthy eating for city residents.

Measurable Results: Expected results for the project include: Education to 150 elementary school children and 60 youth; enhancement of the Urban Learning Farm site; 50 gardeners engaged in these issues; increased knowledge for 60 backyard gardeners; a published article in the Boston Bay State Banner newspaper; a radio announcement; Distribution of compost to 60 community members; Participation of 60 individuals and organizations in the 2008 "Build-A-Garden" program.

Partners: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mosque for the Praising of Allah, Boston Public Health Commission, Shirley Eustis House Association, Emerson Elementary School, Wellesley College, Haley House.


2006: Mattapan Community Development Corporation (Mattapan, MA)
Ending Lead Poisoning in Mattapan: Involving Youth in the Fight Against Lead
$30,000
The Mattapan Community Development Corporation has been working since 1996 to ensure that local residents have access to healthy, affordable housing by focusing on economic, social, and environmental issues facing the community. Since 1993, the Lead Action Collaborative has been fighting to eliminate childhood lead poisoning throughout Boston. The two organizations are partners in a diverse and broad coalition working to implement the “Ending Lead Poisoning in Mattapan” project, which will identify and target families in high risk housing before poisonings occur and raise youth and family awareness of risks presented by lead and ways to prevent and reduce exposure. The project will educate and train Mattapan community youth on lead issues and train them to deploy the Community Assessment Tool (CAT) to evaluate exterior residential lead hazards and identify highest risk sites in the community for further action. A teacher from Mattapan Citizens School will be trained on lead and lead risks and will assist in school education, outreach and training throughout Mattapan to reach other teachers, students and families. Information on available lead poisoning and de-leading resources will be provided to families through neighborhood associations, community groups, and the press.

Measurable Results: CAT assessments of 1000 Mattapan properties and identification of remaining highest risk areas for childhood lead poisoning; measurable increase in teachers educated about lead and teaching students about lead risks; measurable reduction in elevated blood lead levels within the four local census tracts being targeted and throughout Boston neighborhoods.

Partners: Lead Action Collaborative, Mattapan Board of Trade, Colorado Street Citizens Group, Boston Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program


2007: Childhood Lead Action Project (Providence)
"Lead Paint Citizen Engagement Initiative"
$35,000
The Childhood Lead Action Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island through education, parent support and advocacy. The "Lead Paint Citizen Engagement Initiative" will focus education, outreach, remediation resources and other tools to block groups in Providence, Central Falls and Woonsocket that have the highest incidence of childhood lead poisoning. The Childhood Lead Action Project will work to recruit and sustain strong community involvement on three subcommittees of the Lead Paint Advisory Group to engage, inform and involve local residents in decision-making. Key elements of the project include developing and implementing a recruitment plan to bring members of the targeted communities to actively participate in subcommittee work and volunteer outreach; provide technical assistance and support to community volunteers; and engage residents to solicit feedback on the remediation, outreach, education and enforcement activities in target communities. The project expects to improve the health of young children living in high-risk Providence, Woonsocket and Pawtucket neighborhoods by decreasing their exposures to lead toxins that impede their ability to learn, grown and thrive.

Measurable Results: Expected results from the project include: reducing the incidence of childhood lead poisoning in targeted areas by 50%; reduction of lead hazards in 400 homes over two years; 25 community meetings held in the targeted block groups in Providence, Pawtucket and Woonsocket; 15 community residents engaged in the decision-making process through the lead paint advisory committee and its three subcommittees; 700 individuals engaged for involvement; and development of a comprehensive recruitment plan.

Partners: Neighbor Works Blackstone River Valley, Pawtucket Citizens Development Corporation.


2006: Childhood Lead Action Project (Providence, RI)
Tenant Empowerment Project
$30,000
The Childhood Lead Action Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island through education, parent support and advocacy. The “Tenant Empowerment Project” will develop a grassroots outreach and education initiative to inform low-income tenants in Providence and Woonsocket, RI about their rights under Rhode Island’s recently enacted Lead Hazard Mitigation Act (LHMA). The will engage tenants directly through churches, daycare centers, and English as a Second Language programs, job training programs, and health centers and provide education about existing risks from lead and opportunities to reduce the risk of childhood lead poisoning by improving housing conditions without fear of eviction.

Measurable Results: Curriculum, tenant fact sheet, and slideshow developed in Spanish and English on lead poisoning and LHMA; 20 community meetings in Spanish and English will educate 500 low-income tenants about new rights under LHMA and risks of lead exposure; over 1,000 bilingual tenant fact sheets and information packets distributed to participants.

Partners: Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission, Rhode Island Legal Services, Connecting for Children and Families

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