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Nearly 100 House Lots in Boston Neighborhoods De-leaded -- Project Wins Honorable Mention from the American Public Health Association

Release Date: 04/07/2006
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, EPA (617) 918-1027 Lisa Brown, BU School of Public Health (617) 414-1401 Tom Lyons, Boston Public Health Commission (617) 534-2821

(Boston, Mass. - April 7, 2006) Today, EPA New England, Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced that the Boston-based Lead-Safe Yard Project received Honorable Mention from the American Public Health Association (APHA), through its annual recognition program, which for the year 2006 focuses on "Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids." This recognition is part of the observance of National Public Health Week (NPHW), which runs April 3 – 7.

This program, which was created in 1998 by BUSPH and EPA, provides low-cost methods to eliminate lead in urban residential house lots. Lead-contaminated soil in older Boston neighborhoods remains a source of exposure that has not received widespread attention. Even when houses have been de-leaded, yard soil has rarely been sampled or treated.

Between 1998 and 2002 nearly 100 house lots in North Dorchester and Roxbury received lead-safe yard improvements. Improvements included removing contaminated soil and adding mulch to raise the level of the ground on which children play; adding compost to garden plots from which previously contaminated soil had been removed; improving bare soil areas with lawns, mulch, and stepping stone paths; and creating gravel driveways. The Boston Public Health Commission and Lead-Safe Boston continue to provide lead-safe yards through their housing rehabilitation and de-leading programs, which are open to income-eligible Boston residents.

“Children are often the silent victims of lead poisoning,” explained Patricia Hynes, BUSPH Environmental Health Professor and co-principal investigator of the original project. The Lead-Safe Yard Project is an exemplary public health program that is protective of children, is low-cost, able to be maintained by homeowners, and is easily replicable. Through this program we have been able to clean up nearly 100 yards in Boston. We are honored to receive this award from APHA.”

The Lead Safe Yard Project has developed a how-to handbook for individuals, neighborhood associations, community agencies, and local government, to encourage program replication. The handbook can be accessed at The major partners in this effort include the US Environmental Protection Agency, Boston University School of Public Health, the Boston Public Health Commission, Lead-Safe Boston, the Bowdoin St. Neighborhood Health Center, and the Dudley St. Neighborhood Health Initiative.

"This program is a great example of a public health partnership that works," said John Auerbach, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "We're grateful to the BU School of Public Health, EPA New England and our other local partners for helping us protect the health of all Bostonians – particularly our most vulnerable residents."

National Public Health Week

Eleven years ago, a presidential proclamation declared the first full week in April as NPHW. During this week, it called on federal, state and local health agencies to work with private organizations towards building healthier communities and awareness of public health issues around the country. Each year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) uses the one-week campaign to build public and policy-maker support and understanding to address significant public health issues. The national observance of NPHW 2006 is April 3-9 and will focus on children and the built environment.

For more information about EPA’s Lead Safe Yard Project, visit: