Preserve EPA Funding for Lead Poisoning Prevention

In Washington, DC, and across the country, there has been significant concern about the downsizing of the Environment Protection Agency. The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition (of which NCHH is a member) feels that we must specifically respond to the media reports of upcoming cuts to programs that focus on lead. 

Today, a letter (available here) regarding lead poisoning prevention programs was sent to Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, signed by 226 organizations and 368 individuals across 46 states. Next week, the Coalition will also send a letter to key members of Congress regarding lead poisoning prevention funding at HUD, EPA, and CDC. We hope you will consider signing that letter as well.

Special thanks to coalition members at the Environmental Defense FundHealthy Babies Bright Futures, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, the Lead and Environmental Hazards Association, and NCHH for their work in drafting this letter, to all who signed, and to all who helped pull this together.

Related: Read NCHH's blog on the subject, "Threats or Promises: Which Way for the Trump Administration on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention?"

NCHH and the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition Share Definitive "Find It, Fix It, Fund It" Strategy to End Lead Poisoning with Congress and the Incoming Administration

There are over 535,000 children with elevated blood lead levels in the United States. Childhood exposure to lead, even at low levels, has lifelong consequences including decreased IQ and cognitive function, developmental delays, and behavior problems; very high exposures can cause seizures, coma, and even death. Preventing childhood exposure to lead has a large return on investment; every dollar invested in lead hazard control results in health, educational, and other societal savings of at least $17.

While effective interventions to reduce exposure to lead in paint, water, soil, and consumer products already exist, the Flint water crisis reminds us that investment in these interventions must not only be widespread but sustained and that much more needs to be done to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. In the U.S., 37 million older homes contain lead paint, and 23 million of them have significant lead paint hazards. Of these homes, approximately 3.6 million currently house young children; children of color and children of low-income households are disproportionately impacted by lead exposure. In addition, an estimated 6.1 to 10.2 million homes have lead service lines for their drinking water — the most common reason for lead contamination in water. 

In the wake of the Flint crisis and increased national will to address childhood lead poisoning, the National Center for Healthy Housing and the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition (Coalition) convened over 100 organizations to launch Find It, Fix it, Fund It: A Lead Elimination Action Drive. Drive members worked together to create recommendations so that Congress and the new administration can act quickly in 2017 to eliminate lead poisoning.  

The Find It, Fix It, Fund It document contains an overview and four sections:

  1. Locate and Eliminate Sources of Lead Exposure, Modernize Regulations, and Use Science to Update Standards;
  2. Surveillance of Blood Lead Levels and Follow-Up Services to Children Exposed to Lead;
  3. Advance an Aggressive Financing Strategy to Eradicate Lead Poisoning; and
  4. Infrastructure Investment and Workforce Development.

The recommendations included in this document seek to eradicate childhood lead poisoning within five years by eliminating lead exposures from housing, water, consumer products, and other sources, and to successfully identify children already exposed to lead and provide necessary follow-up services throughout their lives.

This has been a consensus process among members of the Coalition.

NCHH and the Coalition appreciate the time and immense effort in researching and writing these recommendations.

Read the document.

Share NCHH's Flood Cleanup Guide with a Friend Today

Heavy rains, tropical storms, and hurricanes have affected several locations around the United States this summer, and many more towns may be impacted over the next several weeks.

Howard County, Maryland, home to our office, was beset by heavy rains on Saturday, July 30, resulting in flash flood conditions and damage. Six inches of rain showered the town of Ellicott City, only a few miles away, over two hours. So much rain over a short period would be a struggle for any town to manage, but Ellicott City's historic district is nestled at the base of a steep valley with the Patapsco River at the bottom and the Tiber River running adjacent to Main Street. With no place for the rainwater to go but down, the Tiber overflowed, tearing up sidewalks and washing everything toward the Patapsco, which rose 14 feet that night. Several buildings were destroyed, and many others sustained damage. Many families and business owners must now determine what within their homes and businesses can be salvaged and what must be thrown away.

That's why NCHH is sharing Creating a Healthy Home: A Field Guide for Cleanup of Flooded Homes. We created this helpful guide to assist families in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005; the guide illustrates how to restore salvageable belongings. With the recent storms in Maryland and the possibility of more extreme weather to come, we encourage people to print, share, and forward this flood guide to anyone who may benefit.

Two Webinars Promote Healthy Housing for Older Adults

The Health and Housing Funders' Forum and the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition recently hosted webinars focusing on healthy housing for older adults, describing two successful housing-based service models (HBSMs), one in Vermont and the other in Oregon, and their importance in addressing the social determinants of health, promoting population health, and advancing healthcare systems change.

According to a rigorous independent evaluation of Vermont’s SASH model by RTI and LeadingAge, the Vermont model is reducing the rate of growth in Medicare spending significantly while improving health and access to care. In Oregon, the housing-with-services model brought together a partnership of housing development organizations, the state’s largest Medicaid insurance provider, and several nonprofit social service agencies. A study completed by Enterprise Community Partners and the Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE) reports on Medicaid savings

The Funders' Forum webinar, Community Based Health Systems: Using Housing as a Platform, was held September 21. View the September 21, 2016, webinar recording.

The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition's webinar, Healthy Housing for Older Adults: Housing as a Platform for Community Health Systems, was held June 7. View the June 7, 2016, webinar recording.

Flint and Beyond: Lead Poisoning Remains a Critical Public Health Issue

As the lead-in-water crisis in Flint, Michigan continues to evolve, NCHH joins the nation in supporting the residents of Flint in their time of need. Resources must be marshaled as quickly as possible to ensure a safe water supply and provide follow-up services to address the long-term consequences of lead poisoning. We need to take the lessons from this crisis to improve our public policies so that no other communities have to experience what the residents of Flint are going through.

Due to the media attention generated by the crisis in Flint, NCHH has received many inquiries about lead poisoning and what parents can do to protect their children. Many have told us that they thought that the problem of lead was solved decades ago. The truth is that industry mined massive quantities of lead over the last century and put that lead into many products that went into our homes, including pipes and solder, paints and glazes, and other consumer products. Although lead was banned from new residential paint in 1978 and from new plumbing in 1986, residents may still be exposed to lead from products that remain in older homes. Lead was also added to gasoline for on-road use until 1996, and as vehicles burned the gas, the lead was left behind in the dust and soil in our communities.

After decades of sustained research and action, the percentage of children who have been lead-exposed is much lower than it was in the 1980s. Yet lead exposure remains a threat for far too many people.

To learn more about the issue of lead in water, the role NCHH has played in the fight against lead poisoning, and what every parent should know to protect their families from lead exposure, click here.