We are excited to announce that we have received federal investments to strengthen environmental health practice and workforce capacity aimed at reducing lead exposures in tribal and territorial communities.
Harm from lead exposure has been recognized since times of antiquity. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was one of the first to describe its deleterious attributes. The health implications of the industrial and cosmetic uses of lead are staggering. Children’s developing organ systems are especially vulnerable to lead. Tiny doses can result in permanent, irreversible damage to the nervous system; affect development, learning, and behavior; and cause low birth weight or premature birth. Pregnant individuals are also at risk from exposure to lead and can suffer from thyroid dysfunction. Further, lead has been detected in breast milk. In adults, acute lead toxicity can lead to kidney damage, impaired cognitive function, seizures, coma, and death.
Lead exposure in Newark, New Jersey, and Flint, Michigan, illustrate how communities of color are disproportionately affected. Children living in those communities already experiencing barriers associated with low socioeconomic status or racial disparities suffer yet another systemic challenge of someone else’s making. These contemporary illustrations serve as a grim reminder of the work ahead address to address disparities that are evident throughout the U.S., especially in communities of color.
We remain committed to the notion that we can eliminate environmental lead exposures in our lifetime so every resident can reach their full human potential, free from the harm of this insidious heavy metal.
Through our cooperative agreement with CDC, we will address lead-related issues by focusing on issues in tribal and territorial communities. Our activities will include hosting and providing travel scholarships for a 2.5-day lead workshop in Guam for the historic members of the Northern Pacific Environmental Health Association. These are the constituents of the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands including the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Territory of Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Nauru, and other countries and territories as need arises to provide education, support development of strategies, and build partnerships to provide regional support in reducing childhood lead poisoning. Additionally, support will be given to provide equipment necessary in lead detection.
We will also work to address lead-related needs in Indian Country by creating training materials and resources as well as creating a lead tribal mini grant to strengthen the tribal environmental health workforce.
Grant Award information: Federal Award Number: NU38OT000300, Award amount $323,083.