St. Luke's wants help in fight to rid homes of lead poisoning

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 02/03/2007 - 18:20.


Thanks to Susan Miller for pointing out an important article in the 02/03/07 Plain Dealer regarding the war to eliminate lead poisoning in our region by 2010 - an outlandishly aggressive objective, as Cleveland ranks among the top five cities nationally for lead poisoning. In 2004, St. Luke's Foundation funded what has been the most important collaboration ever for the future of Northeast Ohio: the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC), aligning over 80 agencies and organizations at local, regional, state and federal levels toward the common objective of lead eradication in our region within the next three years. On February 1, 2007, St. Luke's brought together the leadership of many other foundations for the expressed purpose of convincing as many foundations as possible to join them in funding the next three years of GCLAC initiative. The article states the objective of raising $3 million from foundations to leverage for far greater support from government sources.

From talking to some associates who went to the meeting, it sounds like it was a great success. There were very high level representatives from many important foundations, indicating very strong support for St. Luke's efforts, request and this collaboration. With expanding support, and the progress and plans developed over the past three years, there will be great progress made with lead poisoning in this region in the coming few years.

GCLAC is an excellent model of regionalism, collaboration, and innovation, nationally recognized for its cross-boundary structure and initiatives. If you are seriously interested in lead poisoning or any related concerns, you should become involved with GCLAC. The contact information is included at the end of the article, included below.

Note, on April 13, 2007, from 8 AM to 12 PM, at the Natural History Museum, GCLAC will host an important forum on the relationship of lead poisoning to learning ability and so education. We have invited government leaders to participate and will feature insight from two globally recognized experts in related fields: Michael T. Martin and Kim Dietrich.

Michael T. Martin, Research Analyst, Arizona School Boards Association, is an expert in the relationship of lead to learning. I strongly recommend you read his paper "A Strange Ignorance: The Role of Lead Poisoning In "Failing Schools"", the topic on which he will speak.

Dr. Dietrich serves as Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Associate Director of the Cincinnati Children's Center for Environmental Health. His research has focused on the developmental effects of prenatal and early postnatal exposure to lead in infants, toddlers, school-age children, adolescents and adults.

At the forum on April 13th - "Why Johnny Can't Read" - we will learn and discuss the most current research and insight on lead and learning and education, and we will connect that to better understanding of learning and education issues in NEO, and how to eliminate the learning barrier of lead and so improve the IQ of our community.

From the introduction of Michael Martin's "A Strange Ignorance", consider hopw relevant the following quote is in NEO, and join us for the free forum (with free breakfast) on April 13... "The education community has not really understood the dimensions of this because we don't see kids falling over and dying of lead poisoning in the classroom. But there's a very large number of kids who find it difficult to do analytical work or [even] line up in the cafeteria because their brains are laden with lead." 

Here's the write up in the PD about St. Luke's funding meeting for GCLAC:

St. Luke's wants help in fight to rid homes of lead poisoning

Saturday, February 03, 2007
Barb Galbincea - Plain Dealer Reporter

The St. Luke's Foundation is urging other grantmakers and area businesses to join it in combating lead poisoning among children.

Although the confirmed number of Cleveland children with excessive levels of lead in their bodies has dropped dramatically from 40 percent in 1996 to a 2006 rate of 11 percent, Cleveland still ranks among the top five cities nationally, according to experts. The national average is 2 percent.

"In the case of lead poisoning, what you don't know can kill you," Denise San Antonio Zeman, president of the foundation, said during a pitch to potential funding partners this week.

St. Luke's, which in late 2004 pledged over $1.3 million to help the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council, is ready to entertain another grant request in the third quarter of this year, Zeman said.

But she said other grantmakers and businesses will have to pitch in if the region is to meet a federal mandate to eliminate lead poisoning by 2010.

Zeman estimated that the local effort will have to raise about $3 million for the next phase of the program to attract more money from public sources.

Dr. Dorr Dearborn, of Case Western Reserve University, said lead poisoning is devastating to young children at a time of rapid neurological development.

Along with the physical effects, lead-poisoned children can suffer from subnormal intelligence, impaired memory and behavioral problems.

Most exposure comes from deteriorating, leaded paint in homes built before 1978, according to public health officials. Colorful paint chips, which taste sweet, attract children, who also can pick up contamination from dust and soil.

Robin Brown, whose daughter Charmayne was diagnosed with lead poisoning at age 4, said it's critical to make families aware of what danger could be lurking in their homes.

"You can't see it. You can't hear it. But it's working very, very diligently inside," said Brown, who founded Concerned Citizens Organized Against Lead to build public awareness. "Now we have to worry about [Charmayne's] life on a daily basis."

Stuart Greenberg, executive director of Environmental Health Watch, said Cuyahoga County is home to more than half of the lead-poisoned children in Ohio.

"Lead poisoning is primarily a disease of poverty," he told the audience.

Cleveland Health Director Matt Carroll chairs the public-private lead advisory council, which includes the county health department and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry as key players among the more than 60 agencies involved.

"It's no longer just about testing children; it's about making housing lead-safe," he said.

More information about Greater Cleveland's plan to eliminate lead poisoning is available at Information about local programs to help families also is available by calling 216-263-LEAD.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: bgalbincea [at] plaind [dot] com, 216-999-4185