By: PRBuzz
December 07, 2012 at 12:56 PM EST
Dr. Howard Mielke to be Featured on Close-Up Talk Radio

New Orleans, LA  (PRBuzz.com) December 7, 2012 -- In a study published by the National Academy of Sciences titled "Lead in the Human Environment," geochemist Clair Patterson concluded that sometime in the near future urban areas of the United States will be rendered more or less uninhabitable by the poisonous industrial lead residues that have accumulated in the past century.

It was this study that sparked the interested of Dr. Howard Mielke, an internationally recognized research scientist and expert in the dangers posed to children from exposure to lead. Among the first researchers to identify lead as an urban health threat, Dr. Mielke has since dedicated his career to raising the public's awareness of the harmful effects of lead exposure and has played an integral role in interventionist efforts to reduce contamination, particularly in child play areas.

"The connection between prolonged lead exposure and impaired cognitive development has been well established. It's not something we can continue to ignore," says Dr. Mielke. "The community must be safe for children in order to be safe for everyone."

Studies of adults poisoned by lead as children revealed damage to the brain's pre-frontal cortex, responsible for the executive functions of the brain. This can lead to severe learning disabilities as well as behavioral problems that can develop into violence and crime against the community.

Despite Dr. Mielke's successful campaign for a rapid reduction of lead from gasoline in 1986, there remains a reservoir of lead in the environment. That's what's creating the problem, especially among young children because of their hand-to-mouth activity.

"In a city like New Orleans where there's a lot of soil, the lead dust accumulates in that soil," says Dr. Mielke. "That's how it ends up in child play areas."

Still, the question remains: How do you prevent something so harmful and ubiquitous?

"The city is actually changing contaminated soil with clean soil at parks and that is a major precedence for the city and a good direction for policymaking in the city of New Orleans," says Dr. Mielke. "That's one thing we're working very hard to continue."

In addition to parks, New Orleans clean soil projects are also being conducted on HUD's public housing properties and elementary school properties. Private properties are not receiving the same treatment. To fill the public vs. private property intervention gap, Dr. Mielke is conducting soil lead intervention projects at private properties such as childcare centers and churches to make play areas lead safe for children. The goal is to make the city play areas lead safe for children. The benefits far outweigh the costs of educational failure, behavioral disorders, violence and costly chronic diseases that are associated with lead exposure.

To continue progress toward converting lead hazardous play areas into lead safe play areas requires funding. Dr. Mielke is seeking the funds necessary to continue progress toward making New Orleans lead safe for children.

"The goal is to change the lead map of New Orleans and provide lead-safe play areas in all neighborhoods of the city," says Dr. Mielke. "The lead safe play area program is a model project for other cities to follow."

Close-Up Talk Radio will feature Dr. Howard Mielke in a two-part interview with Doug Llewelyn on December 11th at 3pm EST and December 18th at 4pm EST.

Listen to the show www.blogtalkradio.com/closeuptalkradio. If you have a question for our guest, call (347) 996-3389.

For more information on Dr. Howard Mielke, visit http://tulane.edu/som/departments/pharmacology/mielke.cfm

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