October 24, 2013

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Events Highlight Progress, Need for Continued Efforts

The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (formerly known as the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning) today joined with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), members of Maryland’s congressional delegation, state and local leaders, and parents of children poisoned by lead to call attention to the ongoing efforts to eradicate this tragic and costly disease.

Every year more than half a million children are poisoned by lead – 3,200 of which are in Maryland – leaving them with irreversible brain damage that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Children with lead poisoning will be challenged to succeed in school as lead has a direct negative impact on reading and learning abilities.

GHHI received a $30,000 grant from the EPA to deliver a multi-faceted public engagement operation which will inform residents of Baltimore City of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee’s resolution to recommend lowering the reference level for concern for blood lead levels in children from 10 µg/dl to 5 µg/dl. This is a significant change that reinforces the long-held understanding that there is no safe level of lead for a child.

“It is too early to declare victory in our fight to end childhood lead poisoning,” said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of GHHI. “We are in a unique position to finish the job – we know what needs to be done. If we fail to do so, we will continue to see the effects of lead’s toxic legacy in our schools and justice system.”

“It is vital that we help educate parents and caretakers on the importance of safeguarding children from the dangers of lead in their homes,” said EPA's Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This environmental justice grant is an important step in our ongoing efforts to stamp out the childhood lead poisoning in Baltimore neighborhoods.”

“Under Governor O'Malley's leadership, working with our partners like the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, Maryland’s highly successful lead program has reduced lead poisoning by more than 98 percent. But this disease is completely preventable. We cannot and will not let up in our work to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in our state," said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers. 

Norton committed that GHHI will work to advance a national agenda to reduce the rate of childhood lead poisoning by 75 percent over the next five years.

“There are few diseases for which we have a known cure – lead poisoning is one of them,” said Norton. “If we remove the hazards from a home, we dramatically reduce the likelihood of lead poisoning and can effectively eliminate it as a major public health threat.”

About the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative™

The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (formerly known as the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning*) replaces stand-alone programs with a comprehensive strategy to improve health, economic and social outcomes for children, families and seniors through a proven integrated housing intervention framework. GHHI is supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Energy, and national and local philanthropies.

GHHI manages local direct services programs in Baltimore, MD that include green and healthy housing interventions, training programs, and relocation, legal, and education services. Nationally, the organization is a leading provider of public policy and technical assistance services to government agencies, nonprofits, and philanthropy to support effective and efficient implementation of programs and policies that create energy efficient, healthy and safe homes.

Current GHHI sites: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Dubuque, Flint, Jackson, New Haven, Oakland, Philadelphia, Providence, Salt Lake, and San Antonio. The organization plans to add 25 new sites over the next three years.

Visit www.ghhi.org to learn more about the organization.

media inquiries

For more information about the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, and for press and communications matters, please contact:

Kaletha Henry, Senior Communications Associate

khenry@ghhi.org (443)-842-5712

To arrange an interview with our President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton, members of the media should contact:

Julie Villar, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO

jvillar@ghhi.org (443)-842-5713