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Hughes announces $125K in new grants to fight lead poisoning

State senator announces new flow of cash to fight lead poisoning in Philly.

State sen. Vincent Hughes, at podium, announces new funding to fight lead poisoninCourtesy of State Sen. Vincent Hughes

State Sen. Vincent Hughes announced Thursday that he has successfully brought together $125,000 in new grants to help fund Philly's fight against lead poisoning.

While lead poisoning rates have dropped dramatically among Philly children, it's still twice as high as the rest of the nation.

In 2015, 369 children tested with blood-lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter, according to the city. Another 1,477 children had blood-lead levels between five and nine micrograms per deciliter. When ingested, lead paint chips or dust can cause severe and permanent developmental damage to children.

“We know that lead poisoning is a serious problem in both Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania,” the Philadelphia Democrat said in a statement.

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Out of the funds, $35,000 will go toward a training program at the Overbrook Environmental Education Center that "teaches lead safety measures necessary to protect inhabitants during renovations, repairs, and painting projects" in pre-1978 housing and child occupied facilities, according to Hughes' office.

Lead paint left on walls before the federal government banned it from consumer use in 1978 could be disturbed during these types of projects and affect youngsters.

The remainder of the funding, $90,000, will go toward the city's "Lead and Healthy Homes Program, which conducts lead remediation for contaminated properties," according to Hughes' office.

Hughes announcement comes days after Mayor Kenney announced the formation of a Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Advisory Groupto step up the fight against lead poisoning.

"Every little bit helps and we thank the senator for his efforts," said Kenney's spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.

City government says it has had a tough time fighting lead poisoning in children due to cuts in federal funding, low rates of screening children for lead in their blood, and the difficulty of enforcing existing laws on rental units.

These grants are utilizing money from state programs for job training and community revitalization, with Gov. Tom Wolf's support. Hughes also announced Thursday he will reintroduce a $250 million bill to fund lead remediation across the state.

"For inner city children to be prepared to run the race in life they must start out on equal footing,” City Councilman Curtis Jones said in a statement. “Overcoming lead paint poisoning starts our kids off in the race with combat boots."

 
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