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The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (Districts) has received an award for their Lindane Usage Reduction Project from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) third annual Environmental Achievement Awards Program.
The award was presented by U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri at the Region 9 Headquarters in San Francisco.
Thirty-one organizations and individuals were selected to receive awards from California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam. The Environmental Achievement Awards are designed to recognize individuals and groups outside of the EPA who are working throughout several western states to protect and preserve the environment.
More than 100 nominations were received in this year's program. The entries were judged on innovation of ideas, techniques and technologies, ability to address an environmental problem, accomplishment of stated goals, ability of the program to be widely shared, collaboration with others, clarity of the presentation and long term benefits for the environment.
The Districts' Lindane Usage Reduction Project was a collaborative effort with the City of Los Angeles and the non-profit head lice educational organization, the National Pediculosis Association, with funding from an EPA Region 9 Pollution Prevention Leadership Grant. The project was a multi-lingual, public outreach program designed to reduce the amount of the pesticide lindane going to the sewer.
Lindane is a potent neurotoxin that causes seizures, birth defects, liver and kidney damage, cancer and death. Lindane is contained in some prescriptions used for the treatment of head lice and scabies. After application, the lindane is rinsed off with water and enters the sewer system. Even after wastewater treatment, it passes through to creeks, rivers, lakes and the ocean.
The Lindane Usage Reduction Program was pilot tested in the cities of Long Beach and Burbank. After the program was implemented, testing revealed a 50 percent reduction in lindane entering the sewers in both cities.
The number of physicians prescribing lindane dropped from 81 percent to 43 percent and the awareness that lindane is damaging to the environment increased from 32 percent to 95 percent among the target audiences. The project also catalyzed the passage of a bill in California banning the medical uses of lindane.
The Districts are a group of 25 independent special districts serving the wastewater and solid waste management needs of about five million people in Los Angeles County. The Districts' service area includes 78 cities and unincorporated territory within the county.
The role of the Districts is to construct, operate and maintain facilities to collect, treat and dispose of wastewater and to provide for disposal and management of solid wastes. The directors of the 25 separate districts are the mayors of the cities within a district and the chairperson of the County Board of Supervisors for unincorporated areas.