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December 20, 2014

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Housing:

Federal funding allows UNLV, community partners to continue Healthy Homes Program

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Leila Navidi

Shawn Gerstenberger says lead poisoning is still a problem, and the substance can be found in food, such as candy, as well as in paint.

UNLV received more than $2.3 million from the federal government to continue inspecting older homes in Henderson for lead-based paint.

Since 2006, UNLV’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health has partnered with local governments and community organizations to conduct Healthy Homes inspections in some of Clark County’s oldest neighborhoods and train community members in assessing and treating housing-related health hazards.

The three-year grant, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will allow Henderson’s Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program — with the assistance of UNLV researchers and students — to conduct poison, asthma and other hazard assessments at 110 Henderson homes.

“The collaboration between the city of Henderson and UNLV to address Healthy Homes issues is a great example of how collaborative research benefits our communities, cities and educational institutions,” Shawn Gerstenberger, the interim dean of UNLV’s School of Community Health Science, said in a statement. “Partnering with forward-thinking organizations, like the city of Henderson, and submitting competitive research proposals bring much-needed federal funding to Nevada.”

If lead is found in a home through the joint UNLV-Henderson program, a team of UNLV researchers and graduate students will provide free lead hazard control services to eligible applicants. Those services include simple fixes, such as replacing air filters, to partnering with community groups to provide structural repairs.

Lead-contaminated dust is the leading cause of lead poisoning, according to UNLV officials. Low exposure to lead can result in a variety of health problems in young children, such as impaired hearing, reduced height, learning disabilities and developmental delays. Higher exposure levels can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and can cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death.

In addition, these Healthy Homes inspections will look out for asthma triggers (such as mold, pests and dust mites), poisoning hazards (such as improperly stored medicines, chemicals and cleaning supplies) and potential injury sites (such as rickety stairs, slippery floors, and broken smoke and carbon monoxide detectors). UNLV researchers will use $200,000 of the grant to examine and fix these preventable hazards, such as repairing leaky pipes and installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The program will be free for Henderson homeowners and renters who live in homes built before 1978 (the year lead paint was banned), have at least one child 5 years old or younger or are expecting, and have a total income of $51,750 for a family of four. Interested residents may call 702-895-5422 to find out if they qualify.

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