It has been five years since I announced the City’s Comprehensive Action Plan for the Eradication of Childhood Lead Poisoning in St. Louis.
We’ve made measureable progress.
Since 2001, the number of lead poisoned children ages 6 and under has been reduced by more than 76 percent, and the most dramatic reductions have occurred since the Action Plan was put into place. For fiscal year 2008, the rate of lead poisoning in the City among children tested is at its lowest in decades: less than 5 percent compared to 13.6 percent in 2003 when the Action Plan was introduced. Through the Action Plan, the City’s Building Division and Community Development Administration have already remediated well over 5,000 homes to make them lead safe for our City’s children.
I repeated these facts today at an announcement of the name of the Lead Safe St. Louis program’s new Lead Safe Hero, a previously unnamed mascot for those health messages aimed at children. (The mascot concept has worked well in other programs. Baltimore has a hero named Derek. The state of Missouri has a Leadasaurus. A four-year old from Mason School won a computer, a Build-A-Bear gift certificate, and a build-a-dinotoday for suggesting that ours be called Lino, the Lead-Safe Dino.)
As we know from numerous (and belated) news accounts over the past year, there are many sources of lead exposure. Because of that, it is important that residents observe the State law that requires every child under age six in the City to be tested for lead exposure every year. The goal of our program isn’t simply measurable progress. It is eradication of childhood lead poisoning. That will require everyone’s cooperation.