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Central MN agencies receive grants to reduce home health hazards

Pope County and the Meeker, McLeod, Sibley Community Health Board are among seven agencies to be awarded state grants to help build local capacity for addressing health hazards in homes.

The grants were announced today by the Minnesota Department of Health. They total $250,000. Pope County received $25,000 and the Meeker, McLeod, Sibley Community Health Board received a $50,000 grant.

The money will be used to develop and implement programs that address health hazards frequently found in homes -- for example, lead, radon, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke and fire safety risks.

Most local health agencies in Minnesota already participate in programs to prevent lead poisoning in older homes most likely to contain sources of lead. The grants are designed to build on this foundation to address other housing-related health hazards.

"What we've found over the years is that the same homes that have lead hazards often also have other environmental hazards that expose their occupants to health risks that are largely preventable," said Dan Symonik, program supervisor. "This project seeks to address those hazards in a one-stop-shop kind of way so that intervention or prevention can happen sooner rather than later -- and health outcomes can be improved."

Grant activities will target high-risk populations, including children under age 6, low-income and minority households, the elderly, and parts of Minnesota with a known high prevalence of radon or older housing with lead hazards.

Agencies that received grants will be required to complete a strategic planning and needs assessment, come up with pilot methods for assessing homes and providing education, and provide training to local health and housing organizations to better identify health hazards in housing.

A primary focus of the home health assessments will be working with licensed in-home child care providers to conduct lead hazard assessments. Grant recipients also must work with local building code officials on incorporating a health-hazard assessment into building inspection practices.

Funding for the grants comes through a federal healthy homes and lead poisoning prevention grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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