Safe Jobs and Healthy Homes
St. Lawrence County Public Health is joining in a collaborative effort with the Occupational Health Clinical Center of the North Country and the Workforce Development Institute to form a coalition focused on reducing and eliminating lead and other hazardous exposures in the home and on the job that cause significant health problems for the children in our region as well as for the workers who do renovation and rehabilitation on these homes.
These types of health hazards are especially harmful for children and for construction workers. Lower levels of exposure are more toxic for children than for adults because of their relative size and have more devastating and longer term effects, because of their developing neurological systems. Construction workers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC installers, and others who work on home renovation and construction are at higher risk for all levels of exposures when working on homes that contain hazardous substances and therefore have greater risk for all associated health conditions.
Because of the large number of stakeholders involved in the safe jobs and healthy homes equation, representing interests that vary from economic development and business to health and social welfare to a cleaner and greener community, a collaborative effort is critical for effectively reducing hazardous exposures in the home.
North Country Partners Program Priorities
Beyond Getting the Lead Out!
Our initial efforts are focused on lead, as it is the most prevalent toxin with the most impact on health for the largest number of people. As this project takes root, North Country Partners for Safe Jobs and Healthy Homes will consider how to prevent exposures to other home toxins, such as mold, asbestos, carbon monoxide and radon. Some hazards that have gained attention more recently are: particulates from wood burning (associated with a rise in asthma) and chemicals contained in building materials, such as chromate copper arsenic, PFC's and isocyanates.
Testing and Assessment
By increasing the Blood lead testing rates for children in our region, we will have a clearer picture of how bad the problem is in our county. We will also be able to identify high-risk areas, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping and other assessment methods. With this information, we can enhance the effectiveness of our awareness-raising and develop evidence-based strategies.
Awareness and Prevention
Education and awareness are essential for changing behaviors and reducing lead at its source, before a child is affected.
As awareness and concern grow for the serious health effects of lead and other home health hazards on children's health, their futures, and our economy, we expect a greater demand for Lead-Safe training for workers, as well as the creation and enforcement of safer renovation work guidelines and incentives for contractors to use lead safe practice, ensure proper training for their employees, get their workers' Blood Lead Levels regularly monitored, and have them fitted for respirators.
Training and Technical Support
There is a critical need for lead-safe training of local contractors in our region. The coalition would like to bring the EPA-mandated Lead-Safe practice training --Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP)-- right here, to Canton, NY.
We'd like to work with local small contracting businesses to develop technical support, so that they can remain viable and competitive, while preventing exposures to toxic substances.
Sharing resources is key to the success of North Country Partners, as these activities will require more than any one of our agencies can afford. A part of our efforts will be devoted to accessing additional funding to support the long-term success of these programs.
Home Health Hazards
There is no known safe level of lead exposure. Very small amounts cause ADD, ADHD, aggressive behavior, Lower IQ's and Learning Disabilities in children. For adults, chronic exposure to even low levels of lead can lead to migraines, memory loss, confusion, irritability and more serious conditions, like impotence, miscarriage, and kidney disease.
Exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions, including dermatitis and asthma as well as other symptoms, such as: headache, fever, muscle pain, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes. In rare cases, exposure to mold can lead to fungal infections in the lungs or other organs.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen contained in various building materials. Exposure to asbestos causes asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Isocyanates are contained in paints, varnishes and spray foam insulation. Over exposure to isocyanates can cause asthma and other lung problems, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. It can also cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
- Occupational Health Clinical Center of the North Country 315.744-0651
- St. Lawrence County Public Health 315.386.2325
- Workforce Development Institute, North Country Regional Office 315.769.7900