October 24th, 2016, Baltimore, MD – Today the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) kicked off National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week events at its sites across the country to raise awareness of lead poisoning and launched its national campaign to end childhood lead poisoning as a major public health threat within five years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 535,000 children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels. Impacted children enter school with diminished reading and learning abilities and drop out of school at a rate 7 times greater than their peers. Additional effects include hearing loss, speech delays, aggressive even violent behavior and long term health impacts on the kidneys, heart and brain costing the U.S. over $50 billion a year in medical, special education, lost earnings, and criminal justice costs.
“For far too long, children and communities have been negatively impacted by lead, but the good news is that lead poisoning is entirely preventable,” said GHHI President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton. “GHHI sites and partners are engaging communities throughout the U.S. this week to help people understand the problem and the steps we can take at the neighborhood level, at the city and state level and as a nation to solve it. Now is the time to move the arc of public and political will, to bring an end to the toxic legacy of lead in the United States.”
GHHI has developed with partners across the country a five year strategic plan to end childhood lead poisoning – a set of broad policy recommendations to strategically marshal the financial resources and regulatory tools to end childhood lead poisoning as a major public health threat in the next five years. Norton will present the strategic plan in a national webinar to policy makers, stakeholders and the public on October 27th.
GHHI sites across the country are holding community events throughout the week, providing information and resources to prevent childhood lead poisoning. In Maryland, GHHI will hold a series of tenants’ rights, property owner and contractor trainings, will visit school and Head Start classrooms, and together with partners host a Baltimore Children’s Health Fair on October 29th. In Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Tony T. Yarber will announce the Lead Safe Jackson Housing Program with GHHI Jackson. In Atlanta, Georgia, city officials and stakeholders will tour homes recently rehabilitated for health and energy efficiency. GHHI Lewiston-Auburn, Maine and partners are giving away free lead dust kits for lead poisoning prevention week. In New Haven, Connecticut, lead inspectors will visit elementary school classrooms to read the book “Henry and Fred Learn About Lead”, and students will receive lead poisoning prevention educational materials.
GHHI and partners will host a National Lead Summit in Washington D.C. on December 5th to convene national policy leaders and inform the incoming administration. Partners include Healthy Babies Bright Futures, National Center for Healthy Housing, and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai among others. Later this year GHHI, together with its partners, will launch a national lead campaign to mobilization action at the local, state and national levels, and is part of a national coalition of organizations urging federal agencies to take up a comprehensive plan to prevent lead exposure. GHHI is also a supporting partner of the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition’s Find It, Fix It, Fund It campaign and the Pew Charitable Trust’s Health & Equity Impacts of Lead Poisoning Project.
This year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” underscores the importance of testing homes and rental properties, getting children younger than six blood lead tested, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. Go to www.GHHI.org for information on keeping the home free from lead and other health hazards.
About the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
GHHI is a national nonprofit working with partners in over 30 cities and counties to break the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy children. Formerly known as the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, GHHI replaces stand-alone intervention programs with an integrated, whole-house approach that produces healthy, safe and energy efficient homes. As a result, GHHI is improving health, economic and social outcomes for families across the country.
With support from HUD, DOE, CDC and numerous philanthropic partners, GHHI now serves as the national model for green and healthy homes interventions. Currently, there are 25 GHHI sites nationally: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Dubuque, Flint, Greater Syracuse, Jackson, Lansing, Lewiston Auburn, Marin County, Memphis, New Haven, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Salt Lake, San Antonio, Springfield, Staten Island and the State of Rhode Island. Learn more at www.ghhi.org and follow us @HealthyHousing.