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Rhode Island Hardware Stores Team Up on Health Campaign to Fight Lead Poisoning

Release Date: 03/13/2001
Contact Information: Laura Whittaker, Keep It Clean Campaign (617-636-2431) Ana Novais, RI Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (401-222-5943)

Nearly 200 paint and hardware stores across New England, including 20 in Rhode Island, have teamed up with the Tufts University Keep It Clean Campaign to educate families about lead-safe renovation.

"Hardware stores are a great place to reach people before they begin spring home improvement projects and teach them about safe renovation techniques if they have old lead paint in their home," said Laura Whittaker, coordinator of the Keep It Clean Campaign, which is part of the New England Lead Coordinating Committee based at Tufts University.

"Childhood lead poisoning continues to be a major public health threat in New England," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, which is helping to fund the campaign. "The Keep It Clean Campaign is a great consumer effort to remind do-it-yourselfers of the lead risks that are out there and how they can be avoided."

Although banned from paint in 1978, lead-based paint continues to be prevalent in many New England homes and apartment buildings, especially in urban areas where housing stocks tend to be older.

"Many homeowners and parents don't realize their home improvement projects may disturb old layers of lead paint," Whittaker said. "This can create lead dust, the most common source of lead poisoning, especially for children. All it takes is as much lead dust equal to the amount of sugar found in a sugar packet to poison a child. And since the lead dust is so small you can't see it, many homeowners don't realize they have created a problem."

In Rhode Island, nine percent of children under the age of six have elevated lead levels in their blood. Lead poisoning rates for children living in urban areas is substantially higher, in some cities running as high as 20 percent.

Children under the age of six and pregnant women are most vulnerable to lead. Even adults doing the work can get lead poisoning, so it's smart for everyone to take precautions.

The Keep It Clean Campaign promotes easy and inexpensive lead-safe renovation solutions that any homeowner can use. Some simple methods, such as misting surfaces before sanding, containing the work area and careful clean-up, can make a dramatic difference in reducing the risk of lead poisoning.

Participating hardware stores have trained employees to answer questions about lead-safe renovations and have additional information. Among the stores participating in Rhode Island are:

Armen's Hardware, Providence, RI, 401-941-3600
Bouchard Hardware, Providence, RI, 401-351-8405
Community Hardware, Inc., Providence, RI , 401-831-1400
Enterprise Hardware Company, Providence, RI, 401-621-3199
Mt. Pleasant Hardware/Elmwood Paint Center, Providence, RI, 401-351-7200
Rocky's Ace Hardware, Providence, RI, 401-272-8893
The Design Center at Adler's, Providence, RI, 401-421-5157
The Paint Shoppe, Providence, RI, 401-421-7256

Cranston Paint and Wallcovering, Cranston, RI, 401-946-5070
Durfee True Value Hardware, Cranston, RI, 401-461-0800
Rocky's Ace Hardware, Cranston, RI, 401-941-8561
St. James Hardware, Inc., Cranston, RI, 401-944-2740
The Color House, Inc., Cranston, RI, 401-943-1155

Hanna's Color Center Inc., Pawtucket, RI, 401-725-6096
J.A. Landry Hardware Co., Central Falls, RI, 401-725-58
No. Scituate Paint & Décor, Inc., Johnston, RI, 401-934-2547
Philip A Mulvey Company, Woonsocket, RI , 401-769-5700
Standard Hardware Company, East Providence, RI , 401-438-1420
The Paint Shoppe, East Providence, RI, 401-434-3030
The Sherwin-Williams Company, North Providence, RI, 401-353-2340

The campaign began March 3 and goes until the end of June.

For more information on lead exposure, visit the EPA's web site at