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:
- Locate and Eliminate Sources of Lead Exposure, Modernize Regulations, and Use Science to Update Standards;
- Surveillance of Blood Lead Levels and Follow-Up Services to Children Exposed to Lead;
- Advance an Aggressive Financing Strategy to Eradicate Lead Poisoning; and
- 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.