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City of Richmond, VA

10/21/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/21/2019 10:46

Mayor Stoney and partners recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, raise awareness of the city’s free lead abatement program

Mayor Levar Stoney, the City's Department of Housing and Community Development, the Richmond City Health District, project:HOMES and the local Housing and Urban Development Office are joining forces to raise awareness of the dangers of lead exposure and poisoning during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 20-26, 2019.

To raise awareness of this critical issue, the Mayor and state health officials will visit the home of a family in South Barton Heights that requested a screening and participated in lead abatement.

'Lead poisoning is a serious issue that can impact our children for the rest of their lives,' said Mayor Stoney. 'We want every parent to know its dangers, get their kids tested and take full advantage of this free-of-charge program to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.'

The city and its partners are working to educate the community on the danger of exposure to lead in the home and the importance of testing children for lead. Parents with young children are strongly encouraged to sign up for the city's Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program, which provides free home screenings and lead abatement to eligible homes and rental properties in Richmond.

Lead exposure can result from various tainted materials, but the primary causes of lead poisoning among children are lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust. While lead can affect almost any organ and system in the body, the nervous system is particularly affected. Lead exposure can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, approximately 16,000 children under the age of six living in Richmond are considered at high risk for lead poisoning. Because children living below the poverty line or residing in rental units built before 1978 are at the highest risk of lead exposure, minority and low-income families are disproportionately affected. Pregnant women residing in older housing are also at high risk.

'The Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program is an opportunity for many Richmond residents to live in safer housing and eliminate conditions that contribute to lead poisoning,' said Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. 'A blood test is the only way to confirm whether someone is poisoned. This is why physicians play an important role in the effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. The health department is pleased to be a part of the city's effort to prevent lead poisoning and encourage participation by property owners and residents who qualify.'

The city received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reduce lead poisoning of children. Officials are encouraging families to sign up for testing.

'This program is essential because it provides a pathway for homes to be made lead safe for Richmond's children. Lead poisoning causes real health problems impacting a child's IQ, mood, and behavior in ways that can limit future opportunities and prevent success,' said Zack Miller, Lead Hazard Control Program Project Manager at project:HOMES. 'This program provides our city's low- and moderate-income families a cost-free path to knowing their homes are lead safe and not negatively affecting their children's future.'

For more information on the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program, please contact: