Governor Douglas Honors the Vermont Lead Safety Project

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Contacts: Jason Gibbs
Governor’s Office
(802) 828-3333

Amy Sayre
VT Department of Health
802- 863-7388

RUTLAND, VT.—In recognition of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Governor Jim Douglas and Vermont’s Deputy Health Commissioner recognized the outstanding contribution to child health by the Vermont Lead Safety Project.

Lead is a dangerous, metallic substance that was once used in paint and gasoline. Children are most often exposed to lead through lead paint used in homes built before 1978, when federal law banned the use of lead in paint.

In a ceremony held at the Rutland County Parent/Child Center, Governor Douglas presented an award to Leslie Wright, co-founder and Director of the project, to commemorate the group’s leadership in bringing the issue of childhood lead poisoning to the forefront of Vermont’s child health agenda.

“Leslie Wright and the Vermont Lead Safety Project have done an outstanding job of educating parents, children, and childcare professionals in Vermont about the dangers of childhood lead poisoning,” Governor Douglas said. “They have been instrumental in the development of lead safety curriculum for pre-school and school-aged children and they have brought lead poisoning to the attention of the Vermont public.”

The Bristol-based organization has collaborated closely with the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Tenants, Inc. and the YMCA. Vermont Lead Safety Project members have served on several state and local committees including an appointment to the Vermont Lead Paint Hazard Commission in 1993.

“Prolonged exposure to lead can cause general health problems,” said Sharon Moffatt, deputy commissioner of health. “Even low levels of lead in a child’s blood can cause learning and behavior problems.”

Lead dust is created by chipping or peeling paint, opening or closing lead painted windows, and repairs or renovations to lead painted surfaces. The dust collects on surfaces that children touch such as toys and windowsills and then children put their hands or toys in their mouths.

“The only way to know if a child has been exposed to lead is to have the child tested,” Moffatt continued. “It is important for parents to have their children tested at age 1 and 2 so that the source of the lead can be found and eliminated.”

In the same ceremony, Deputy Health Commissioner Moffatt presented Terri Edgerton, Director of the Rutland County Parent/Child Center with a video on lead poisoning prevention entitled “Sesame Street Lead Away.”

The video features Elmo, Maria, Rosita and Oscar the Grouch who give young children information on how to avoid lead poisoning. The Vermont Department of Health is providing the video to all Parent/Child Centers in the state in honor of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.