Community Member

United Parents Against Lead and Other Environmental Hazards (UPAL)

Richmond, Virginia

Discovering in 1996 that her son had been poisoned by lead spurred Queen Zakia Shabazz to action. Banding with parents of similarly affected children, she founded United Parents Against Lead (UPAL), a national networking organization whose mission is to ensure the basic rights of all children to live in a safe and healthy environment. United by their firsthand knowledge of the effects of lead poisoning and the irreparable damage and suffering that can be caused by this preventable disease, UPAL believes that parents have a responsibility to bring children’s voices and experiences into the national dialogue and that children’s health and safety is ultimately everyone’s responsibility. The group works toward ending the threat of lead poisoning and other environmental hazards through education and awareness, advocacy, intervention and resource referral. Based in Richmond, Va., UPAL assists families and communities affected by environmental hazards by providing support and guidance in organizing local chapters.

Since 2004, UPAL has worked extensively and collaboratively with community partners throughout Petersburg, Va., to implement a HUD-funded Lead Elimination Action Plan project that resulted in testing and lead remediation of 80 homes. To increase awareness of lead hazards in water and implore the city of Richmond to support a full retrofit of lead service lines, UPAL recently joined forces with 1619, Inc., to work toward keeping vulnerable populations safe from high lead concentrations found in contaminated paints, soil and water. To help residents identify any water hazards, the partnership distributes water testing kits to those living in high-risk ZIP codes. If their water is contaminated, the team helps them to fill out grant applications to replace their lead service pipelines. UPAL also has participated in a webinar to update public health professionals and healthcare providers about water, pediatric health and advocacy efforts to implement full lead service line replacement in their communities.

For more information:

UPAL, Sa’ad El-Amin partnership seeks to decrease high levels of lead in soil, water – Richmond Free Press, August 2023

Lead Poisoning and Health Care Among Issues Nonprofits are Addressing; New UR Program Will Incubate Solutions – University of Richmond, July 2019

Dorothy Terry

Dorothy Terry

Dorothy Terry is a journalist by profession, having worked as a daily newspaper reporter on both coasts and a contributing writer for several national magazines. She is a former Congressional press secretary and has worked as a communications manager and consultant for corporations and nonprofits.


Queen Zakia Shabazz, Founder and Director


Social Media

Climate Impacts

Erosion-Subsidence, Flooding, Heat, Water Contamination

Environmental Justice Concerns

Air Pollution, Coal/Coke Plants and Emissions, Groundwater Contamination, Hazardous/Toxic Sites, Incinerator/Dumping/Landfill, Lead Contamination


Community Farm/Gardens, Community Organizing and Education, Direct Relief and Aid, Elevation or Relocation of Homes, Legal/permit challenges to development, contamination, pollution, etc, Policy Reform, Renewable Energy, Risk mapping and/or monitoring e.g. flooding/contaminants etc

501c3 Tax Deductible


Accepting Donations