Concord — A nonprofit law firm serving low-income New Hampshire families and seniors has been awarded a $450,000 grant to tackle the problem of childhood lead poisoning.
The New Hampshire Bar Foundation recently approved the three-year grant to New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Among other things, the firm will use the money to promote better compliance with practices landlords can use to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in rental housing.
They money will also be used to advocate for legislation to deal with the threat of lead in New Hampshire’s water systems and help tenants who’ve been retaliated against for reporting elevated blood lead levels in their children.
The organization also will reach out to affected and at-risk communities, with a particular focus on refugee families, who are considered particularly at risk due to nutritional deficiencies and other factors.
In 2000, a 2-year-old refugee from Sudan died of lead poisoning in Manchester, becoming the first U.S. lead poisoning death in a decade. Every year between 2008 and 2013, more than 1,000 children in New Hampshire under age 6 were found to have elevated lead levels in their blood, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2014, the Conservation Law Foundation identified lead poisoning as the most pressing and immediate threat to the health and safety of low-income children in New Hampshire.
“All parents want their children to grow and thrive. But low-income parents often face the invisible hurdles of lead paint and other environmental hazards as they try to provide health home environments for their children,” said Elliott Berry, the Housing Justice Project Director at New Hampshire Legal Assistance. “The most frustrating thing is, childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable.”