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June 28, 2001

Lead abatement project begins

Work began yesterday, June 27, on the first of a series of Homewood lead abatement projects co-sponsored by UPMC Health System.

A joint effort of the UPMC Community Initiatives program, the Homewood Healthy Homes Collaborative (HHHC), the Allegheny County Department of Health and other local agencies, the Homewood lead abatement project hopes to help prevent the effects of lead poisoning in children under 6.

HHHC plans to host three free lead screenings a year; submit 5-10 applications a month to the county health department for lead abatement; abate 1-3 homes per month, and work to certify at least five contractors and 30 workers in lead abatement procedures.

According to Herbert L. Needleman, professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and an authority on lead poisoning, "The major source of lead poisoning in children is household paint, and many older Pittsburgh neighborhoods have homes with deteriorating lead paint."

In the past year, HHHC held a Lead Awareness Day, involving community nurses from UPMC, medical students from the School of Dental Medicine and other health care providers and community partners. About 40 children were tested.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 4.4 percent of children aged 1-5 have lead levels in their systems that exceed safe limits. Ingested lead paint can cause lowered IQ and attention span, hyperactivity, impaired growth, reading and learning disabilities, hearing loss, insomnia and a range of other lifelong intellectual and behavioral effects.

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