PAWTUCKET, RI -- In an effort to improve public health, and in recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined with Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien to help increase lead awareness and discuss new collaborations on lead remediation efforts.
Lead poisoning disproportionately affects the lives of children from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds and can have lifelong, irreversible consequences, including severely inhibiting healthy development and compromising learning ability.
Senator Reed and Mayor Gebien, who were joined by Pawtucket Housing Authority Director Stephen Vadnois and residents of Galego Court, a family housing development, noted that it is important for families to be aware of lead paint hazards in the home, screen children, and learn how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.
“Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy that dramatically impacts a child's ability to learn and has a significant cost for schools and our society. Eliminating this problem is both a moral and economic imperative. There are simple steps we can take now to prevent damage that could last a lifetime, but we must be proactive and provide the resources and collective commitment to get the job done,” said Senator Reed, a champion for lead poisoning prevention, who serves as the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD), and recently delivered nearly $2 million to help Pawtucket and Providence identify and address lead-based paint hazards.
“One of the things we’re doing today, in recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, is raising awareness and spreading the word, and secondly we’re working collaboratively to eliminate lead exposure in at-risk homes. At the national level, I worked to update HUD’s intervention standard for children with lead poisoning and provided $25 million to help public housing agencies comply with that new standard. I am pleased that, thanks in part to Mayor Grebien’s efforts, the Pawtucket Housing Authority will receive $1 million and that Providence Housing Authority will also receive nearly $975,000 of those funds to protect children who live in their developments. This funding will build upon the over $13 million in federal funding that has been secured for lead abatement efforts across Rhode Island over the last five years,” noted Reed.
Pawtucket will use $1 million of the funding, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public Housing Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund Program, to perform risk assessments and remove or control lead-contaminated dust and soil in and around public housing units.
“I want to thank Senator Jack Reed for all of his hard work and commitment to the Pawtucket community,” said Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “Our young children are extremely vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead which can lead to health problems. The $1 million funding that Senator Reed has delivered from the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) will be instrumental to the Pawtucket Housing Authority in combatting the lead contamination in and around the public housing units.”
“Thank you Senator Reed for securing this very important funding. With this award, with our staff, and with our partners, we can work together to eliminate lead’s toxic legacy from our backyard,” said Pawtucket Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Vadnais.
According to the CDC, 535,000 American children under 6 years of age are affected by lead poisoning. Exposure to lead-based paint hazards at a young age poses not only serious immediate health consequences, but may also permanently jeopardize potential for upward social mobility throughout adulthood. Children who are exposed to lead hazards are seven times more likely to drop out of school and six times more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system.
According to the Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook: “In 2017, 953 (4%) of the 24,501 Rhode Island children under age six who were screened had confirmed evelevated blood lead levels of ≥5 µg/dL. Children living in the four core cities (6%) were more than twice as likely as children in the remainder of the states (3%) to have confirmed elevated blood lead levels ≥5 µg/dL.”
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- Mayor Donald R. Grebien