Credited with “Rebooting” Federal Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning Prevention Efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Providence, Rhode Island (March 21, 2014) – The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition and the Childhood Lead Action Project delivered the Child Health Champion Award to U.S. Senator Jack Reed yesterday for securing federal funding for lead poisoning prevention. Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy that dramatically impacts a child’s health and ability to learn.
“I am pleased we were able to restore funding for these important lead poisoning prevention programs, but our work is not finished. Millions of Americans, including a staggering number of children and families right here in Rhode Island, remain at risk. We must be proactive and continue to invest in the health and development of our children,” said Senator Reed.
Advocates and health officials were stunned in 2012 when Congress slashed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning Prevention Program by 94 percent—from $29.0 to $2.5 million. Capitol Hill insiders advised that it would take a “miracle” to bring back funding for this program amidst the federal budget battles. The FY14 appropriations bill includes $15 million for the program.
“Senator Reed delivered a miracle for us,” said Rebecca Morley, Executive Director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. “Millions of kids will benefit. We simply couldn’t ask for a better and more effective leader in Congress on this issue.”
“We are relieved that the fight against childhood lead poisoning is back on track with funding for the CDC’s Healthy Homes/Childhood Lead Poisoning Program. We may be the smallest state, but we have some of the biggest champions of lead poisoning prevention in Congress with Senator Reed playing a pivotal role in restoring much needed funds,” said Roberta Hazen Aaronson, Executive Director of the Childhood Lead Action Project.
Senator Reed established National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which advocates celebrate nationally every year in October, and he has introduced scores of bills on lead poisoning and healthy homes.
“I am honored to accept the National Child Health Champion Award today and thank all the men and women who work hard to reduce lead poisoning and protect children. The effects of lead poisoning cannot be reversed, but thanks to the great work of the National Center for Healthy Housing, the Childhood Lead Action Project, and other leading advocates, more families are getting screened and more communities are proactively adopting strategies to eliminate lead hazards in the home before children are exposed,” said Reed.
Each year, Senator Reed leads efforts to maximize funding for HUD’s lead hazard control program and for CDC’s healthy homes/lead poisoning prevention program. HUD helps low-income families address lead-based paint hazards in their homes. CDC collects and disseminates all the data on childhood lead poisoning in the U.S. and its staff serve as the emergency responders to unusual outbreaks of the disease in the U.S. and abroad. The accomplishments of the CDC program are vast, including, for example:
- Being the first to discover that toys imported from China and the Pacific Rim contained lead. These products resulted in severe cases of lead poisoning and one death. This work resulted in (1) the largest voluntary recall in the history of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, (2) improved testing of products at the border, and (3) led to a new law that reduces the allowable level of lead in consumer products.
- Uncovering that refugee children were being exposed to lead upon entering the U.S. The lion’s share of these children were not bringing exposures from refugee camps, but instead were poisoned once relocated to contaminated U.S. housing. CDC worked with the State Department to require blood lead testing for refugee children and to train relocation workers on the dangers of lead hazards to these children.
- Uncovering lead poisoning epidemics in Burma and Nigeria and worked with those governments to eradicate the sources of exposure.
- CDC and its state health department partners have used data to identify “repeat offender” properties (properties responsible for multiple poisonings) in many jurisdictions. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing, and the Department of Justice, these data helped to mount an investigation and enforcement actions resulting in more than 200,000 of the most egregious properties being made lead-safe.
Also attending yesterday’s event at the Providence Public Library were state representatives Art Handy, Raymond Hull, and Scott Slater. Staff from the offices of U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman James R. Langevin, and Congressman David Cicilline also attended. Advocates sang their praises as well for supporting the inclusion of funding for lead poisoning prevention in Rhode Island’s state budget and for keeping the issue visible nationally.
The Childhood Lead Action Project works to eliminate childhood lead poisoning through education, parent support, and advocacy.
The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition is a network of advocates and practitioners, funded by the Kresge Foundation, with a mission of creating safe and healthy homes for all.
About the National Center for Healthy Housing
The National Center for Healthy Housing is the preeminent national nonprofit dedicated to creating safe and healthy housing for America’s families. It has trained over 35,000 individuals in lead-safe and healthy housing practices, and its research provides the scientific basis for major federal policies and programs. Follow NCHH on Twitter (@nchh) or like on Facebook at Facebook.com/HealthyHousing. To see a video about NCHH, visit http://vimeo.com/59202134.