PROVIDENCE – Faced with the loss of $594,000 in federal funds because of budget cuts, the Childhood Lead Action Project asked state government to step in and provide emergency funding to keep the health program operational.
At a May 23 news conference, Roberta Hazen Aaronson, director of CLAP, said that the need to continue her agency’s work was made even more critical by the decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lower the threshold for lead poisoning to 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood from the current 10 micrograms level. As a result, instead of 200 newly diagnosed cases in Rhode Island in 2011, there are now 1,279 cases.
The incidence of lead levels in children’s blood has been linked to harmful and persistence effects on a child’s ability to learn and to read, according to Dr. Peter Simon of the R.I. Department of Health.
Speaking at the event were Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health, John Kelly, president and CEO of Meeting Street School, Jim Vincent, president of the Providence chapter of the NAACP, Rep. Art Handy, D-Cranston, and Derek Brown, a parent, whose son, DJ, was discovered to have lead levels at four times the 10 micrograms level. Brown praised CLAP for its efforts to help in bringing his son’s levels down. •