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April Campaign for Lead-Safe Children Launched in Philadelphia

Release Date: 4/5/2000
Contact Information: Joan Schafer, (215) 814-5143/Roy Seneca, (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca, 215-814-5567 & Joan Schafer, 215-814-5143

PHILADELPHIA -- The Environmental Protection Agency, the Philadelphia Health Department, the Regional Nursing Centers Consortium, and other active partners, today launched a new initiative to educate families, landlords, homeowners, and renters about the risks of lead poisoning.

"Children’s health is a top priority for EPA, and community awareness about this preventable problem is essential to any long-term effort to improve the quality of people’s lives," said Bradley Campbell, EPA’s regional administrator.

EPA joined city and community leaders during a kickoff press conference today at the Harrison Elementary School in north Philadelphia to launch the month-long Lead-Safe Children campaign that promotes lead-safe remodeling to protect children from lead dust. The campaign also encourages parents to get their children tested for lead poisoning to determine any source of lead exposure.

The press conference was followed by a lead fair where children and parents participated in hands-on activities to teach them about the dangers of lead poisoning and emphasize prevention methods like clean hands, good nutrition and lead testing. This was the first of more than 20 Lead-Safe Children events scheduled at schools, community centers, supermarkets and pharmacies throughout the city during April. (See attached list of events)

Along with educating families, EPA is stressing that landlords learn their responsibilities and renters know their rights regarding lead hazards in their homes.

The main cause of lead poisoning is exposure to lead dust from deteriorating paint. More than 80 percent of homes and apartments built in the United States before 1978 contain lead paint. Approximately 50,000 children" 1 out of every 3 children tested" in Philadelphia are at risk. In some inner-city neighborhoods, more than 40 percent of the children tested in 1997-98 had elevated blood levels.
The federal government banned lead paint in 1978 because of health concerns. Ingesting lead can cause severe mental developmental and behavioral problems including lowered intelligence in children. Children are easily exposed to lead because they play on the floor or ground and put things in their mouth, swallowing or inhaling lead dust.
EPA is also educating parents about the pre-renovation rule which requires contractors to inform customers about potential hazards created when paint is disturbed. Minor renovations and routine friction on painted surfaces create lead dust. This law ensures that parents receive the necessary information they need to protect their children before home repair work begins.