City, Mayor Honored for Spearheading Collaborative Effort Addressing Childhood Lead Exposure
Two individuals and four organizations in New Hampshire were recognized Wednesday, Sept. 12, at the 2018 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s New England regional office. The environmental leaders were among 28 recipients across New England honored for their work to protect New England’s environment.
Gary S. Lynn from the NH Department of Environmental Protection was recognized with a lifetime award for his many years of service to the health and environment of the state. James Houle from the University of New Hampshire was recognized with an annual award for his contribution and the University of New Hampshire Center for Freshwater Biology, the New Hampshire Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the PFAS Coordination Team of the NH Department of Environmental Protection were all recognized for their work protecting the environment.
Also at the merit ceremony, EPA New England announced three awards for leaders in Children’s Health, with one award going to the City of Claremont and its Mayor, Charlene Lovett.
“New England is rich with individuals, businesses, and organizations that exhibit their strong commitment to local communities and to a clean and healthful environment. EPA is very proud to recognize these meaningful accomplishments,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn.
EPA New England each year recognizes individuals and groups in the six New England states whose are distinguished by their work to protect or improve the region’s environment. The merit awards, given since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown ingenuity and commitment. The Environmental Merit Awards, given for work or actions done in the prior year, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
The 2018 Merit Award Winners from New Hampshire include:
City of Claremont
"It is no coincidence that in February Governor Chris Sununu chose Claremont as the location to sign into law new protections against childhood lead exposure, with Mayor Charlene Lovett by his side. The new legislation mandates lead screenings for all 1- and 2-year-olds in the state and lowers the blood-lead level that triggers state intervention. For decades, Claremont has been one of New Hampshire's highest risk communities for lead poisoning, with an average of 40 children poisoned yearly. Meanwhile, testing rates for blood lead levels in 1- and 2-year-olds there have been among the lowest in the state, even though state health officials recommend universal lead screening for kids due to old housing stock. Lead paint in homes is the single largest contributor to elevated blood lead levels in New Hampshire.
"Fortunately, the City of Claremont has a champion in Mayor Charlene Lovett. Faced with this alarming data, Mayor Lovett made lead poisoning prevention and awareness a priority. She spearheaded a collaborative effort involving healthcare professionals, the school superintendent, and local building, code, and health officials, to increase public awareness and testing rates, and reduce lead hazards in housing. This year for the first time the Claremont school district is requiring lead screening for all students entering kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, the first policy of its kind in the state. The ultimate goal is to prevent poisonings from happening in the first place. Because protecting a child's health is so critically important, we celebrate strong voices like those from Mayor Lovett and her partners in Claremont."
The EPA Region 1 Environmental Merit Award Ceremony was held Wednesday morning, September 12, at the Great Hall at Historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. Lovett accepted the award on behalf of the City.