07/21/05 — Health Department gets grant to pay for creation of lead poison prevention program

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Health Department gets grant to pay for creation of lead poison prevention program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 21, 2005 1:45 PM

The Wayne County Health Department has received a $60,000 grant to develop a lead poison prevention program in Wayne and Wilson counties.

Kevin Whitley, director of environmental health, told the Board of Health Wednesday that Wayne County was chosen because it has three EPA-certified lead investigators and a hand-held analyzer used to identify lead.

"Certain counties that have the expertise have been asked to help those that don't," he said.

He said the grant has several stipulations. Staff must attend advisory meetings and work at the local level to get information out to the public.

There will also be an emphasis on working with the minority populations in Wayne and Wilson counties, especially in areas where elevated lead blood levels are found.

"We will go to that home and investigate," he said. He said there is particular concern in some of the Hispanic population because of a high concentration of lead found in its pottery.

Poisoning cases in Wilson county will be investigated separately by the state, he said.

Public awareness of lead content in rental property is another area of concern, Whitley said.

"If we do find it in the home, we will make the property owner aware of it," he said. "He will have to remediate it."

The Health Department will work closely with its counterpart in Wilson County, Whitley said.

"When we go to investigate (there), they'll send one of their staff members with us," he said. "They'll help us locate those property owners and show us around the county where we need to go."

One staff member has already been hired through the grant, which also allows for the purchase of a vehicle to travel back and forth between the two counties in the program.

Whitley said he has been assured that the grant would be in effect for four years, with the funding reduced over the subsequent three years.