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HUD Awards Over $67 Million to Protect Children from Dangerous Lead and Other Environmental Hazards

WASHINGTON/PRNewswire/ -- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today announced over $67 million in grants aimed at protecting children in low-income households from lead-based paint and other public health and safety hazards today during a joint news conference with EPA Administrator Christie Whitman and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

The HUD grants, announced after the first meeting of the President's Task Force on Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children, will fund programs in 21 states to eliminate lead hazards in low-income housing, promote educational programs and conduct research.

"America's children should have the opportunity to grow up in safe and healthy homes," said Martinez. "These grants are an investment in our children and the future generation of America."

Martinez announced $59 million in Lead Hazard Control grants to remove lead hazards from approximately 7,000 privately owned homes in 16 states.

In addition, over $8 million in grants will fund local projects under HUD's Healthy Homes Program to address a multitude of health hazards relating to the condition of housing. Healthy Homes research funding will also support programs to develop new methods for assessing and controlling home health hazards.

The Lead Hazard Control grants will fund:

* Blood testing for children living in low-income housing;

* Removal of lead-based paint hazards from privately owned low-income homes and apartments;

* Inspecting and testing low-income housing for the presence of lead hazards;

* Temporarily relocating families during lead control work;

* Community education and outreach;

* Job training for lead hazard control workers; and,

* Collecting and analyzing data to identify housing with lead hazards.

While lead-based paint was banned from residential use in 1978, many older homes still contain lead. Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, hearing loss and a host of other health problems in young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school and demonstrate anti-social behavior.

At higher levels, lead can damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. Nearly one million of the nation's 22 million children under the age of six have blood lead levels high enough to impair their ability to think, concentrate and learn.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports childhood lead poisoning remains one of the most widespread childhood diseases. In areas with older housing occupied by low-income families, 27 percent of all children are still lead poisoned. While average blood lead levels have declined over the past decade, one in six low-income children living in older housing is lead poisoned.

Martinez also announced nearly $6 million in grants in seven states under HUD's Healthy Homes Demonstration and Education program. These grants will build on HUD's existing activities to promote children's health and safety in the home. These activities include controlling lead hazards and eliminating asthma, mold and other disease and injury factors in housing.

Healthy Homes Research grants totaling over $2.2 million were awarded in five states to fund scientific study relating to health and safety hazards in the home. The grants will also help develop accurate cost-effective methods for assessing and controlling these hazards.

More detailed grant summaries are available at http://www.hud.gov/news/index.cfm .

SOURCE U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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