Get LEADucated Aims at Protecting Children

Getting the lead out is not as easy as some may think. For instance, homes built prior to 1978 may contain paint that has lead in it. This may be okay as long as the paint is in good condition and is undisturbed, but if it is flaking or peeling, or if the homeowner is renovating and disturbing lead paint, then lead dust in the air can be ingested by children and present a permanent danger to their health. For this reason, the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department runs a Lead Safety and Healthy Homes program that warns against this danger, as well as provides information on other sources of lead contamination. The program also provides advice, promotes the lead-safe certification of contractors, and educates do-it-yourselfers about how to protect their families if they are undergoing a remodeling project.

Katz & Associates recently launched an education and awareness program under the banner “Get Leaducated.” This effort is reaching potential targets through the use of print media advertising, direct mail to homeowners in targeted areas with homes likely to have been crafted with lead-based products, and signs on city trash trucks to help build awareness of the program.

One of the challenges is limiting wasted exposure by ensuring we are communicating where the danger really exists. To address this challenge, the city has identified and mapped out areas with a high percentage of older homes. Selecting the Clairemont area for a pilot program, the K&A team located a vendor who was not only able to sort a list for pre-1978 homes, but also identify which of those homes had young children living there. The result was akin to finding about 3,400 needles in a haystack! The pilot program has taken a multi-pronged approach:

  • Three consecutive months placement of a half-page ad in the well-read Clairemont Community News which covers the Clairemont and surrounding neighborhoods; neighborhood papers such as this one generally boast high readership at a moderate cost
  • Distribution of a flier inserted in the same newspaper carrying key “Get Leaducated” messages and reinforcing the ad messaging
  • A direct-mail postcard to the 3,400 or so identified older homes with children in them
  • Several dozen trash truck vinyl signs that will have a very long “truck life” (similar to a “shelf life”) on the area’s residential streets

The K&A team also designed a new logo for the program and recommended specific changes and updates to the program website. All external communication includes a message to visit the website for additional lead safety information, where people can take a “one minute quiz” to see if their homes are safe and also determine if they qualify for free home renovations to eliminate lead danger.

The quiz, launched to Survey Monkey from the Lead Safety and Healthy Homes Program website (with a return to the program website when respondents are through), is cataloging how each respondent heard about the survey. This data can be used to determine the most effective means of reaching the community in the future.

For more information, please contact Joe Charest at