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[whitespace] Willow Glen neighborhood named 'hot zone' for lead poison

Willow Glen--An area of Willow Glen has been identified as one of 73 "lead poisoning hot zones" in Santa Clara County.

To reduce the high risk of lead poisoning in children, county health officials, working in collaboration with the city of San Jose and Assemblyman Mike Honda's office, are launching a new pilot program.

A lead "hot zone" is a small geographical area with a high number of lead poisoning cases and risk indicators for lead poisoning. Risk indicators include housing built before 1960, a high poverty level and a large population of children under 6 years of age. The area north of Willow Street has been identified as a hot zone.

Lead poisoning--which can cause learning and attention deficit problems--is the greatest environmental threat to children in the Unites States, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It's especially harmful to young children because they are still developing.

An estimated 12,000 children county-wide have high lead blood levels, but only 712 have been detected, says Bonnie Broderick, program manager for public health.

"Kids aren't getting tested," Broderick says. "It's not standard practice yet for physicians to check kids for high blood lead levels. Part of the program is working with the providers and educating them about testing."

Under the new pilot program, the county will conduct an intensive outreach campaign in the lead hot zones and will continue to screen children for lead poisoning, targeting children under 6 years.

"This is a real issue," Broderick says. "We have an untapped number of kids with elevated numbers of lead poisoning. We need to get these numbers down."

The primary source of lead in the environment is deteriorating paints with high concentrations of lead and lead-contaminated soil.
Jessica Lyons

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Web extra to the April 1-7, 1999 issue of Metro.

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