Fighting lead poisoning in Scott County: Parnership with Augustana kicks off

Augustana's Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative will tackle lead in homes

By Gretta Patrick |

Published 08/31 2016 06:19PM

Updated 08/31 2016 06:19PM

Getting lead out of Scott County homes: That's the goal of some Augustana students this school year. They took the next steps Wednesday to make the homes safer.
"This is not an exercise in class, your work here will make a difference," said Steven Bahls, Augustana's President. 
Augustana's Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative partners students with community leaders. This year, they're working with Scott County on getting rid of lead in homes. 
"They think outside the box, and they don't believe things can't be done, so we're hoping they'll bring us new and innovative solutions that we can purpose towards making Scott County lead free," said Scott County Health Department Director Edward Rivers. 
One of the first students involved was Tanner Osing. He studied risk factors all summer, and generated a map of where the highest risk homes are.
"The four risk factors that we're going to be working with are housing age, household income, renter occupancy, and percent African American, and so from those four risk factors, we generated a risk map," Osing said. 
Lead paint was outlawed in the 1970s. Getting rid of all the lead paint from all the buildings more than 40 years old in an area with so many old buildings can get expensive. What Osing's study showed was: What other risk factors besides age could help them narrow the amount of homes at risk for having lead paint.
"To show us exactly where those highest risk areas are, so we can concentrate our efforts on their first," Rivers said. 
"The end goal is to remediate as many homes from lead as possible, and really find out the scope of the problem," Osing said. 
Students in accounting, sociology, public health, and communications will work on projects to identify solutions to Scott County's lead problem throughout the academic year. 
The Scott County Health Department indicates that 50 children test positive for lead in their blood every year. The goal of the program is to drop that number to ten or less by 2026. 

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