Manchester’s Fight for a Lead-free Future Public Health Initiatives Underway

Manchester’s Fight for a Lead-free Future: Public Health Initiatives Underway

In May 2023, the Manchester Aldermen and Mayor established a panel to investigate and remedy the city’s childhood lead poisoning problem. In New Hampshire, the Conservation Law Foundation claims that “Nowhere is lead poisoning more prevalent than in Manchester, where approximately 100 children are diagnosed with elevated levels of lead in their blood.”

Manchester Public Health will give presentations at two free public events on April 9 and May 7 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Beech Street Elementary School and Parkside Middle School, respectively. Presentations will educate parents and families on potential lead risks in their homes, encourage early childhood testing, and explain the essential measures and supports available after a positive test.

Lead poisoning can permanently harm a child’s nervous system, brain, and other organs, even resulting in death. Developmental and intellectual damage are irreversible and have severe societal consequences. The principal source of lead poisoning is lead paint found in homes built before 1978 when lead paint was outlawed for domestic use. It was widely used in the 1950s and earlier, but it remained popular throughout the 1960s and 1970s. More than half of Manchester’s housing predates 1978. The epidemic affects children across all demographics, but it disproportionately affects low-income families and children of race.

The Manchester Lead Exposure Prevention Commission wants to test all children aged 1 to 6 years regularly. Although early childhood testing is the first line of defense in the crisis, the incidence of testing children aged 1 to 6 years old has substantially decreased since the epidemic, and the majority of Manchester’s children in the vulnerable age group remain untested.

Both events are free and open to the public, and anybody interested in the Commission’s work is welcome to attend. Following the presentations, Manchester Public Health will hold question-and-answer sessions. Refreshments will be served, and childcare will be provided for families. Interpretation services will be provided.

The Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) and the Manchester Unitarian Universalist Church are co-sponsoring the activities. For further information and to reserve childcare, call GSOP at 603-668-8250.

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