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Monday, April 30, 2012

$2.48 million grant will combat lead paint in Nashua buildings

NASHUA – About 130 Nashua homes will be targeted for removal of lead paint after aldermen unanimously accepted a $2.48 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday.

The money will help clean high-risk homes, HUD officials said, as well as train workers in lead safety methods and increase public awareness about childhood lead poisoning.

The grant will also go toward health hazard remediation of mold, moisture, carbon monoxide and other hazards for more than 100 units, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau has said, while approximately 120 individuals will be trained in lead hazard control and healthy home principles and more than 15,000 people should benefit from lead hazard outreach and education.

Lead is a toxin known to impair children’s development and to have long-lasting effects into adulthood, and lead poisoning is the top environmental health threat to children. About 24 million homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards, HUD officials said.

Lead-contaminated dust is the primary cause of exposure. It can lead to health problems in young children, including reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height and impaired hearing. At higher levels, it can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system, and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and death.

The grant is a competitive one, Lozeau said during a Human Affairs Committee meeting last week. She credited Urban Programs Director Carrie Johnson Schena with bringing the grant back to Nashua after the city lost the funding for a few years.

The Lowell Sun reported earlier this month that the Mill City had failed to secure the lead hazard control grant funding for Lowell this year, noting that Johnson Schena managed Lowell’s lead program for nearly eight years before heading to Nashua in 2007.

“Sometimes there is limited dollars so the truth of the matter might be that they will let a community have it for a period of time and then another community gets an opportunity and then it may come back,” Lozeau said at the Human Affairs meeting.

Nashua will use the grant in partnership with the Division of Public Health and Community Services, Code Enforcement Department and School District, Southern New Hampshire Services, Nashua Housing Authority, New Hampshire’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority and Triangle Credit Union.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).