Dubuque Observes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Oct. 20-26
Sharon Gaul, Grants Project Manager
Oct. 16, 2019 -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DUBUQUE, Iowa -- The City of Dubuque is pleased to recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 20-26, 2019. The Housing and Community Development Department is working to raise local awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning and educate parents on how to reduce exposure to lead in their environment, prevent its serious health effects, and learn about the importance of testing children for lead.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to encourage organized, local community events, and to empower families and other stakeholders to take action.
Sharon Gaul, lead grants project manager for the City of Dubuque, stressed the importance of raising awareness, “Many people think this is a problem of the past, but it hasn’t gone away. Especially here in Dubuque, the oldest city in Iowa, there is a high prevalence of older homes that have lead paint which can pose a risk to kids.”
About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children between ages of 1 and 5 years have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the level of blood reference value, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions.
Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978.
Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles on food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contains lead.
Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden minority families and low-income families and their communities.
The problem is largely preventable with increased testing and education. Stakeholders can use the digital toolkit (http://hud.gov/program_offices/healthy_homes/nlppw), to assist with building awareness and implementation at the local level.
The City of Dubuque Housing and Community Development Department is implementing a HUD grant for Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. Over the next three years, the program will make 120 homes lead safe with $3.5 million in grant funds. If you live in a home built before 1978, have a child under age six residing in or visiting your home, and you meet the income guidelines, you may be eligible for free repairs to make your home lead safe and healthy. The program is for renters and homeowners. For more information, please call 563-589-1724 or visit www.cityofdubuque.org/lead.
This is the sixth HUD Lead Grant that Dubuque has administered. Since the first in 1997, Dubuque has made 1,280 homes lead safe. During that period, rates of lead poisoning in the city have been declining, but more work remains to be done.
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