National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: Oct. 20-26, 2013

It's that time of the year again! Observed October 20-26, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is upon us.
This year's National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week theme, "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," underscores the importance of the many ways parents can reduce a child's exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.
GHHI National staff has planned a week of informative activities throughout Maryland. Click here for our calendar of events.
Not in Maryland? Visit the EPA website for more information on NLPPW activities taking place nationwide as well as for downloads to help spread the word on NLPPW.

Lights, Camera, Action: My Work with the Environmental Spielbergs-in-Training

Over the past year, I collaborated with the Environmental Justice Partnership’s Student Environmental Development Program (SEDP) to promote GHHI’s Safe at Home Asthma program. The nine participants, in grades nine and tenth, attend Baltimore City Schools. They worked together to educate their families and neighbors across the city about GHHI’s programs and services and the importance of living in a green and healthy home. They in turn became the student ambassadors of their neighborhoods and amateur documentarians.
From February through July 2013, program participants took part in trainings on lead and lead poisoning prevention as well as indoor environmental hazards that can trigger asthma symptoms. The students were equipped with the essentials of an “environmental ambassador”: backpacks (check), t-shirts (check) and a camera (check) and were asked to head out into their communities to inspire dialogue on healthy homes and initiate change. They met with family members and neighbors to discuss the importance of eliminating indoor environmental health hazards for those with asthma and preventing lead poisoning.  Each student was required to complete a short environmental assessment for each home visited and provide general notes on the home.  Feedback was turned over to GHHI staff in order to further assist these families.
Using their cameras, the ambassadors took pictures of homes with lead-based paint; mold; water damage and other hazards found in their communities and created a video presentation of their pictures. The photos were combined to create a Healthy Homes presentation that was delivered in community centers, schools, and churches throughout the city. Each presentation also contained a short skit, enacting a student ambassador’s role in the community, the harmful effects of lead poisoning and other environmental health hazards. Ever helpful, they also informed the audience about how they could secure assistance from GHHI if such problems existed in their homes.  
Working with these students was a true pleasure. They are a strong voice in their community and it’s great to see youth so passionate about educating their neighbors and friends. And, I’m not alone in the joy that I experienced working with these amazing young people.
Barbara Bates-Hopkins, member of the Environmental Justice Partership, also had a great experience with the student ambassadors. She has been working with the students of SEDP for the last three years. “These young people need and want our support to ensure that their voices are heard.  I feel that our investment in them, along with the strong support their parents provided, will help them achieve their greatest potential in terms of economic, social and human rights.”
Ezinne Chinemere is a GHHI Environmental Health Educator. She is headquartered in the organization’s Baltimore office.

Response to MDE 2012 Childhood Blood Lead Surveillance Report

While we are heartened to see the continued decrease in the number of poisoning cases reported above 10ug/dL, it is clear there is much work to be done to educate the public on the impact of very low level poisoning and to debunk the myths about who is getting poisoned.
We continue to see an increasing number of children poisoned in homeowner occupied properties often due to unsafe renovation practices. We are hopeful that the new CDC guidelines, which affirm that there is no safe blood lead level in children, as well as the new legislation in Maryland that strengthens lead paint renovation standards help address this problem quickly. However, it is clear that new resources must be invested to ensure success.
We are concerned that the report from MDE still emphasizes lead exposure benchmarks at 10 ug/dL given the CDC has strongly recommended that all states move its reporting thresholds to 5 ug/dL. This becomes confusing for both families and the health care community.
In Baltimore, where blood lead testing is mandated and virtually every child is exposed to child care centers, homes and other buildings with significant lead hazards, only 33 percent of at-risk children were tested. It is important that the city, state and healthcare community develop improved systems to reach more children.
Few investments match the returns that lead poisoning prevention has shown, with a $1 investment yielding as much as $214 back to the US taxpayer. We must protect our most vulnerable children by focusing our efforts on eradicating this entirely preventable disease once and for all.
Click to read the report.

Meet the Breathe Easies!

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Ad Council have teamed up in the launch of public service announcements featuring a new band of puppets called the Breathe Easies who star in online music videos for kids and caregivers about asthma triggers and how to prevent attacks
Be sure to check out the Breathe Easier video “Vacuum Up the Floor.” Might they have a chart topper out of on their hands?

What you can do?

Get familiar with the Breathe Easies PSAs (click here to watch them in Spanish!) 

Promote in your community, among kids and families and with your partners

Encourage parents and caregivers to use the tools and resources in this new campaign to help prevent kids' asthma attacks

GHHI's Healthy Homes, Happy Families Magazine Now Available

We're excited to announce the publication of the first-ever GHHI magazine! Titled Healthy Homes, Happy Families, it is an 8-page, full-color publication that features stories on the pilot year of GHHI Providence, our new partnership with First Book, a DWEJ Green Jobs Program Graduate, federal healthy housing policy updates and a feature on Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Aging in Place research study.
Click here to download a copy.



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