April 3, 2009

Free Workshops on Lead-Safe Practices to be Held in Helena-West Helena on April 23

LITTLE ROCK – A pair of free workshops on reducing health risks associated with lead-based paint for parents and contractors who renovate older homes will be held in Helena-West Helena on April 23, led by a coalition of public health advocates that includes the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

A workshop for parents, grandparents, daycare providers and others in the community will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Delta Area Health Education Center (AHEC), 1393 Highway 242 South. Dinner will be served and childcare is available.

For contractors, painters, do-it-yourself homeowners, builders and others who work in old homes, a daylong workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Delta AHEC. Lunch will be served.

Door prizes will be handed out during both workshops. Participants also will receive goodie bags.

Reservations are required for both workshops and can be made by calling (501)364-3867.

Arkansas still has many structures built before 1978, when the federal government banned use of lead-based paint due to health concerns. Children exposed to lead dust can suffer from hearing, balance and memory loss, in addition to developmental problems. Adults can suffer damage to their central nervous or reproductive systems.

A rule by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), set to take effect in 2010, requires contractors and those renovating older structures to take precautions to minimize exposure to lead dust.

UAMS, Arkansas departments of Environmental Quality, Health, Arkansas and Human Services, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters (HIPPY) program have joined forces to highlight lead-safe practices required by the EPA rule.

The coalition, organized as APPLE (Arkansas People Participating in Lead Education), previously held workshops in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Marianna and Pine Bluff.

The parent workshop will discuss the health risks of lead dust, how to know if a child has been exposed to lead and when a lead screening may be needed. Other topics will include lead safety and dietary habits that can mitigate lead exposure, such as regular vitamins and minerals as well as a low-fat diet.

The contractor workshop will focus on lead-safe practices for renovation work and the new EPA rule.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com.