WASHINGTON (October 4, 2022) – As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching for the second year a nationwide training and outreach initiative focused on reducing childhood lead exposure. The program, Enhancing Lead-Safe Work Practices through Education and Outreach (ELSWPEO), comes as EPA marks the start of Children’s Health Month in October and prepares for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week later this month.
EPA will offer free trainings on lead-safe work practices to contractors in 10 communities across the United States and its territories where people face elevated risks from lead-based paint. In addition, EPA will engage community members and leaders on strategies for protecting children from lead exposure. This engagement effort will complement the historic investment of $4 billion to reduce lead exposure from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and support the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring all Americans can live in healthy homes.
“This initiative demonstrates how collaboration between national, state, local and Tribal governments and organizations can protect underserved communities from exposure to toxic chemicals like lead,” said Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Many communities across the U.S. are still at risk for lead exposure, and we are committed to lowering and preventing it.”
During ELSWPEO outreach to 11 communities in 2021, this EPA initiative certified 282 contractors in lead-safe work practices and educated 245 community leaders and 170 community members with information about childhood lead exposure.
Building on this success, EPA is working with numerous partners to implement ELSWPEO for its second year as part of its activities for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.
This year, EPA will facilitate renovation, repair and painting (RRP) lead-safe certification trainings and Lead Awareness Curriculum sessions in Stratford, Connecticut; Loíza, Puerto Rico; Arecibo, Puerto Rico; Newark, New Jersey; Portsmouth, Virginia; Miami, Florida; Toledo, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Billings, Montana (with a focus on tribal members); and Sacramento, California.
These communities have known lead exposure issues, and have a demonstrated need for RRP-certified contractors.
ELSWPEO has a two-pronged approach to reduce childhood lead exposure:
- Lead RRP training for contractors: EPA will provide free trainings for contractors to become RRP lead-safe certified, in English or Spanish, depending on the needs of the selected community. In general, EPA requires anyone who is paid to perform work that disturbs paint in housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 to be lead-safe certified by EPA or an EPA-authorized state or tribe.
- Lead Awareness Curriculum sessions: In collaboration with local partners, EPA will facilitate free educational sessions for community leaders and the general public using the Lead Awareness in Indian Country: Keeping our Children Healthy! Curriculum (commonly referred to as the Lead Awareness Curriculum), a set of educational tools that provide practical resources to reduce childhood lead exposure. New this year, EPA will offer several virtual and in-person sessions customized for some of this year’s ELSWPEO communities. The Lead Awareness Curriculum consists of four modules that include lesson plans, worksheets, key messages, presentation slides, and kids’ activity sheets for community leaders and other instructors to use to improve public awareness. EPA designed the curriculum materials with more than 200 tribal partners to be adaptable to all communities.
Two sessions will be offered. The Lead Awareness Curriculum Train-the-Trainer session is designed to equip community leaders to educate their communities about lead, lead exposure, and actions to reduce and prevent childhood exposure. The Understanding Lead session is for community members interested in learning more about lead, lead exposure, and actions to reduce their exposure.