Abstract: In the United States, lead poisoning is one of the most common childhood diseases, and children of color are disproportionately its victims. Portland is no different. Despite federal restrictions on lead use, many low income and children of color in Portland continue to live, learn and play in lead contaminated environments. Ingested and inhaled by children, lead causes many serious health problems including heart disease and possibly cancer. Lead can also cause neuro-behavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder. As a result, in addition to causing health problems, Portland's childhood lead poisoning epidemic also steals education and economic opportunity and parity from primarily low income and people of color, families and communities - the populations served by the Urban League of Portland. Portland's childhood lead poisoning epidemic is preventable. What is lacking is a properly designed, funded and executed lead poisoning prevention and education program. Public ignorance and political indifference are the obstacles. The Urban League of Portland's role in stopping childhood lead poisoning is to inform and educate the community we serve, and to mobilize community and political support to fund and create an effective childhood lead poisoning prevention effort.
The State of Black Oregon is a statewide report on the social and economic conditions of African Americans in Oregon, focusing on specific areas such as as education, employment, housing, health, criminal justice and child welfare. "The report reveals a persistent gap in the living standards between black and white Oregonians, which is growing wider as a result of the economic downturn" (Urban League of Portland website).