UVM gets EPA grant to fight lead exposure

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BURLINGTON, VT- The University of Vermont received a $25,000 grant through the Environmental Protection Agency’s healthy Community Grant Program.  The program addresses environmental and public health issues in New England communities.

 The Grant will help create a new project between the University of Vermont and middle and high schoolers. Students will try and find lead in soil and water around Burlington and Winooski.  The University of Vermont will be working with Burlington and Winooski middle and high schools.

On Friday, Burlington High School students,along with EPA officials and UVM professors came together at Burlington High School to learn about the grant and demonstrate the project. 

One student had a personal experience. Abby Grimm said lead has always been present in her household.

“I live in an old North End House from 1919,” said Grimm.

She said her brother was tested when he was younger and had high levels of lead in his body. She hopes this project will prevent this from happening in future generations.

“Kids shouldn’t have to be high in lead levels to have their homes renovated to meet the needs. They should be able to know that there is lead in their soil and be proactive in the steps to take to not have lead poisoning in your body,” said Grimm.

Paul Bierman is a professor of Geology and natural resources at UVM. He said it is great to get younger students involved.

“We are getting kids involved in doing science that matters in the community. So, this is citizen science. This is service learning. This is the way of getting the next generation deeply involved in an environmental issue that could matter,” said Bierman.

According to Bierman, lead is an extremely toxic chemical and should not be ingested in the body. He feels that this testing should happen all across the United States.

“Every old city in the united states needs this testing to be done because we know that for many years lead was used in pipes, and fittings, and fixtures that carried our drinking water,” Said Bierman. “And lead was used to paint homes.”

Students will test soil and water at their schools and around their homes. They will find lead using state of the art devices purchased by the grant.

The program will go on for the next two years. The EPA says it will help build community awareness around lead issues and will reduce human health risks.

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