Reed, Collins Issue Bipartisan Call to Strengthen Lead Exposure Standard in Public Housing

Senators to HUD: ‘HUD’s Lead Paint standard is unacceptable’

Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — In an effort to prevent lead poisoning in the nation’s public and assisted housing, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today called on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to update the blood lead level standard in public and assisted households with children. The Senators encouraged HUD to match the agency’s standards for acceptable blood lead levels with the latest standards advised by public health officials.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered its blood lead threshold for children from 10 to 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. This revised, stronger standard was developed after extensive research showed that even lower blood lead levels can significantly impact a child’s brain development. Seventy percent of lead poisonings are a result of dust exposure from lead paint in the home, and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning.

To date, HUD has not taken action to adjust the blood lead threshold that it uses for the purposes of environmental intervention in households with children. In fact, HUD has not updated its blood lead level standard since 1999, and the current HUD standard allows for children’s blood lead levels to be three to four times higher than the CDC standard before action is required to address lead hazards in public and assisted housing.

“This standard is unacceptably high and results in children living in conditions that have been scientifically proven to result in lifelong neurological damage. It forces low-income parents to make an impossible choice between keeping a roof over their children’s heads and keeping them out of harm’s way. We urge you to expedite regulatory action on HUD’s standard for environmental intervention and adopt the blood lead levels currently advised by the CDC,” the Senators wrote in their letter to HUD Secretary Julián Castro.

Senators Collins and Reed serve as the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD), which oversees spending for federal housing programs.

“Once a child has been poisoned, the resulting harm to their developing brains can be severe and lasting, and is often manifested in reduced IQ, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities. This completely preventable condition traps generations in poverty and robs children of their opportunity to succeed,” the Senators continued.

The CDC now estimates 535,000 American children under six years of age are affected by lead poisoning.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

February 25, 2016

The Honorable Julián Castro

Secretary

Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 Seventh Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20410

Dear Secretary Castro:

As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, we write regarding the urgent need to address the threat of lead poisoning in our nation’s public and assisted housing. We have long worked to support critical programs that reduce lead hazards in homes, and we urge you to update the blood lead level required to compel environmental intervention in households with children.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered its blood lead threshold for children from 10 to 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. This revised, stronger standard was developed after extensive research showed that even lower blood lead levels can significantly impact a child’s brain development. In fact, there is no safe level of lead. As a result, the CDC now estimates that 535,000 American children under six years of age are affected by lead poisoning.

Seventy percent of lead poisonings are a result of dust exposure from lead paint in the home. As you know, children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning. Once a child has been poisoned, the resulting harm to their developing brains can be severe and lasting, and is often manifested in reduced IQ, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities. This completely preventable condition traps generations in poverty and robs children of their opportunity to succeed.

HUD has failed to adjust the blood lead threshold that it uses for purposes of environmental intervention in households with children. In fact, HUD regulations have not been updated since 1999, allowing for children’s blood lead levels to be three to four times higher than the CDC standard before action is required to address lead hazards in public and assisted housing. This standard is unacceptably high and results in children living in conditions that have been scientifically proven to result in lifelong neurological damage. It forces low-income parents to make an impossible choice between keeping a roof over their children’s heads and keeping them out of harm’s way. We urge you to expedite regulatory action on HUD’s standard for environmental intervention and adopt the blood lead levels currently advised by the CDC.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter. We have come a long since lead paint was initially banned in houses decades ago, but there are still millions of households nationwide with potential lead hazards. As we continue to work on efforts to prevent lead poisoning, we must ensure that HUD’s regulations protect those living in public and assisted housing.

Sincerely,

Jack Reed (D-RI)

Susan Collins (R-ME)

SHARE
Previous articleCommunity Meeting Scheduled for The Ridge Shopping Center and Costco Wholesale Projects
Next articleEPA Top Water Official Tours Local Water Facilities Focusing on Sustainability