LAS VEGAS, Nevada, October 23, 2007 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $96,798 to the University of Nevada -Las Vegas to develop a cost-effective method of screening imported candy to identify lead hazards.
The relationship between consuming lead-contaminated imported candy and childhood lead poisoning is a rapidly emerging health issue. October 21-27 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention week.
"Childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable," said Nate Lau, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "This grant will help identify lead-contaminated candy, and remove it from the consumer marketplace.”
Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning since they are more sensitive to the adverse health effects of lead. Elevated blood lead levels in young children can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and brain damage.
State and local health departments in California and Arizona have estimated that five percent of childhood lead poisoning cases are potentially caused by consuming lead-contaminated candy.
The grant will be used to measure lead contamination hazards in imported candies and create a screening protocol to share with Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs.
The researchers will develop a national candy database, and distribute outreach materials to affected communities in Nevada and, eventually, across the nation.
Monitoring imported products will help keep lead-contaminated candy away from children by removing it from the marketplace.
The EPA's grant to the university will help achieve the national strategic goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning as a health threat in the United States by 2010.
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