U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Monday announced a $196,480 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant to help the West Virginia Division of Health and Human Resources (HHR) reestablish a statewide blood lead surveillance program aimed at preventing lead poisoning in children.
"We've long known that lead is a major health hazard and that exposure to lead is linked to developmental delays, slow growth, and learning disabilities in our kids. Lead in paint for homes and children's toys has been banned since 1978. Yet exposure to lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings is among the most common sources of lead poisoning in children today," said Rahall. "This funding aims to take on the lead-exposure problem and help to safeguard the health and well-being of West Virginia's children, our most precious resource."
The CDC grant will help HHR and local health departments to collect and analyze data to identify and target the highest risk areas for community-based prevention activities, such as housing rehabilitation, housing and health codes enforcement, health care systems engagement, and public and health care provider education initiatives.
By reducing childhood lead poisoning, this initiative is intended to help lower healthcare costs and improve academic achievement as well as later-life success for at-risk children.
"Preventive care is key, especially when it comes to our children. This funding will allow DHHR to track and monitor children and to identify counties at highest risk for childhood lead poisoning in children age six and under, ultimately creating safer environments and improving the quality of life for West Virginians," said West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling.